Ukraine’s Datsko seeks return to No. 1


One month before the Wheelchair Fencing World Championships, Ukraine's Anton Datsko is preparing to take on his rivals.

Ukraine’s Datsko seeks return to No. 1


One month before the Wheelchair Fencing World Championships, Ukraine’s Anton Datsko is preparing to take on his rivals.

When the best wheelchair fencers from around the globe compete for the International Wheelchair Amputee and Sports Federation (IWAS) World Championship on from 17-24 September, in Eger, Hungary, Ukraine’s Anton Datsko is undoubtedly one to watch.

The reigning European Champion in both the category B foil and sabre events, Datsko will take the piste in fine form. With the sabre, Datsko has won three of his last five events, most recently the World Cup event in May in Montreal, Canada.

Long-standing rivalry

Datsko has had success in the sabre, but the foil discipline is one he has struggled in, due to long-time rival, China’s Daoliang Hu. Hu defeated Datsko in the gold-medal matches at both the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the 2013 World Championships. The rivalry was re-ignited with Hu forcing Datsko to settle for silver in the World Cups in Montreal and Warsaw, Poland.

Although Datsko does not single out his rivals, his battle with Hu will be anticipating.

"I know all the fencers who can compete for the top places, but I will not outline them,” Datsko said. “I do not like to point out rivals in advance.”

"I will make adaptations during the competition and will psych up right before each fight."

Ready for battle

Knowing he needs to be in top form ahead of the Worlds, Datsko has not lightened his training with one month to go.

"I am training using my usual programme, and I am also doing general physical training,” Datsko said. "Before the World Championships, there will also be a training camp for the Ukrainian national team in Kiev.

"But I still feel that I can fence even better. All the top-ranked fencers will be in Hungary, it will be an opportunity to test myself fully."

Datsko is currently ranked No.2 in the world with the foil and No.3 in the world with the sabre. A strong performance at the World Championships would go a long way toward restoring Datsko’s No.1 status.

"Of course I do look at the rankings, and it was very nice when I was No.1,” Datsko said. “But my main goal is not to be ranked first. When I take part in competitions, it is always a simple goal – to reach the final and win it.”

One year to Rio

The dates of the World Championships also mark about one year to go until the Rio 2016 Paralympics, and Datsko said next month’s competition will be a dress rehearsal for the Games.

His past Games experiences have given him more confidence for Rio 2016, and a World title would be an even bigger boost.

"As the Paralympic Games are coming closer, pressure is growing,” Datsko said. “The most complicated Games for me were in Beijing [China in 2008]. Those Games were the first for me. In London, it was much easier. That is why I am sure that in Rio I will be able to keep my nerves under control and fight for the top places."

By Mike Stuart for the IPC

Picture by Getty Images