Triantafyllou looks ahead to new wheelchair fencing season
Greek Tokyo 2020 Paralympic bronze medallist, Panagiotis Triantafyllou, is looking ahead to the start of the wheelchair fencing season optimistic that he can make it onto the podium once again.
Triantafyllou approaches a year that will feature five International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing World Cups – and the European Championships – as a top three finisher from the last two Euros.
In 2016 he won silver in the men’s sabre category B and bronze at the last edition in 2018.
“What I need to be in the medals in the upcoming European Championships is to continue the hard training, to study all my opponents and scenarios that can change the way they play so that I can face them. If the preparation is done properly and if I am strong and healthy I will make it. On the day of the games if a have a good energy, I will reach the medals,” the Greek fencer said.
Such confidence and optimism perhaps comes from the fact that Triantafyllou is now a double Paralympic medallist from two consecutive Games at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.
He picked up bronze last year to add to his silver from Brazil. In the years between the Paralympics the 35-year-old says he did not need to make too many changes to his approach, except adapt to a rule change which led to a change of distance between himself and his opponent on the piste.
Not even having to wait an extra year to compete at a Paralympics – and the challenges presented by COVID-19 – could stop Triantafyllou.
“Coronavirus really changed the terms of athletes’ preparation, all athletes went through these difficulties. My preparation for these games was not the best because of corona, so winning a medal makes me very happy.”
But Triantafyllou, who also plays wheelchair basketball, acknowledged that bronze was not his prime target this time around:
“I clearly believed that I could win a medal in Tokyo and specifically the gold medal, but at the beginning of the games in the qualifiers I did not have a very good day, I was not focused enough and so I could not get through the qualifiers undefeated as I had wanted to. However, along the way I managed to concentrate and in important knockout matches to do the best I could and reach the achievement of my goal which was a medal.”
Triantafyllou knows that that finishing on the podium at a Paralympics is huge achievement, and places him in a strong position heading into the new season which begins with a World Cup in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from 14-17 April.
“When I got the bronze medal at Tokyo 2020 the first thing I thought was that it isn’t a coincidence. When I won the silver medal in Rio I felt I was one of the best athletes in the world of wheelchair fencing and I can definitely win even the gold medal. Well I proved to myself that I am one of the best in the world.”
With the European Championships in Poland from 29 November – 4 December paving the way for the 2023 World Championships, which in turn will be a major stepping stone for the next Paralympics, Triantafyllou is more than determined to complete his medal set
“Nothing has changed for me. I am twice in the medals at the Paralympic Games. I am just as stubborn about the fact that I have not won the gold medal and I set it as a goal for Paris 2024.”