Rong dashes Thai hopes at home World Cup

05/12/2023

China’s Xiao Rong placed herself firmly in the way of any hopes the hosts had of claiming gold on the opening day of wheelchair fencing in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, on Tuesday (5 December), claiming victory in the women’s sabre category B.

The win came after an equipment failure for Thailand’s Saysunee Jana – the silver medallist from the recent Asian Para Games – in the final. Jana’s wheel pinged off her fencing wheelchair, leaving her off-balance and in need of an urgent repair, just a few seconds into the match.

After trying to fix her chair and having no choice but to swap it out, Jana struggled to get used to her new arrangements on the piste. One lunge backwards trying to avoid a hit from Rong saw her hurt her back on an unfamiliar back rest.

Rong, the world champion, saw an opportunity to capitalise. Jana continued to put up a good fight but could not hold off her Chinese opponent in the end.

“I am very happy with the result,” Rong said. “I am very grateful to my teammates and coach, especially my coach because I am always meeting the Thai athlete [Jana] in the final so we just watched the videos and we did a lot of work before our match.”

“During the gap I just thought about all the times before I had met her [Jana] and my mind was very peaceful.”

Georgia’s Irma Khetsuriani and Italy’s Rossana Pasquino were the bronze medallists.

World Championships bronze medallist Haiyan Gu also grabbed gold for China in the women’s sabre category A, beating world champion Kinga Drozdz of Poland.

Gu fought hard for her victory with several stops for video reviews throughout the match. She managed to keep her cool just that bit longer than Drozdz to take the win.

Great Britain’s Gemma Collis claimed her third bronze medal of the season whilst Paralympic silver medallist Nina Tibiliashvili secured her own trio of podiums.

It was an all-Chinese final in the men’s foil category A.

China’s Paralympic champion Gang Sun went head-to-head with up-and-coming teammate Saichun Zhong for gold. Zhong finished ahead of Sun at October’s World Championships, claiming silver while Sun finished out of the medals. Zhong also beat Sun to the title at the Asian Para Games.

However the tables turned on Tuesday as Sun managed to return to some of his best fencing. He emerged the victor from a close match that ended 15-13.

Li Hao completed a trio of Chinese fencers to make it onto the podium. He took bronze alongside Hungary’s Richard Osvath.

Great Britain’s Dimitri Coutya bought his World Cup gold medal count to four for the year in the men’s foil category B.

Coutya, the Paralympic and Worlds bronze medallist, eased past France’s Maxime Valet in the final with a 15-3 score.

The Chinese duo of Fan Li Zhu and Yanke Feng were the bronze medallists.

Competition at Nakhon Ratchasima 2023 continues on Wednesday with the women’s foil and men’s epee category A and B.

All competitions can be be watched back on demand at the wheelchair fencing website.