US fencers ready for World Cup challenge
Wheelchair fencers from the USA are gearing-up to get the 2023 International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing World Cup season underway at home in Washington D.C. from the 14-17 January.
Medals could be on the horizon for the hosts as the team builds towards staging the LA 2028 Paralympics where wheelchair fencing could feature.
The competition also marks the next step on the road to Paris 2024 as well as the 2023 World Championships for the whole field.
There will be five World Cups in total this year including editions in France, Italy, Poland and Thailand. As well as the Worlds in Terni, Italy, from 2-9 October the Asian Championships will be held as part of the Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, China, from 23-28 October.
A commentary team of Olympian and Paralympic fencing coach Michael D’Asaro and US Paralympian Lauryn DeLuca will take viewers through all the action.
After winning her first World Cup podiums in 2022 in epee and foil, as well as claiming the Americas titles in both weapons, the USA’s Ellen Geddes is riding high in the women’s category B.
The 34-year-old will be looking to make the most of the home advantage against a strong field.
This includes world No.1 Irma Khetsuriani in the foil. The Georgian is competing off the back of winning her first European title in December.
The quality continues with Thailand’s Saysunee Jana who went unbeaten at the World Cup in the foil and epee in 2022, and is the Paralympic bronze medallist in the latter.
Khetsuriani is also the top seed in the sabre having claimed the Athlete of the Year crown for 2022.
Nipping at her heels is Italy’s new European vice champion Rossana Pasquino, the world No.2 and winner of four World Cup sabre medals last season.
Delivering one of the best storylines of the competition is the USA’s Scott Rodgers in the men’s epee category B.
Rodgers made his international debut in 1997, before the World Cup circuit was formally established. He then went on to represent his country at both the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Paralympics before retiring.
But with the LA 2028 Paralympic Games potentially on the horizon, Rodgers decided to make a comeback. At the 2022 Americas Championships he stormed to second and third in the epee and foil, respectively, proving that he still has what it takes to reach the podium.
In the foil he will take on the likes of European champion and Paralympic bronze medallist Dimitri Coutya of Great Britain and French world No.2 Maxime Valet.
Coutya is also one to watch in the epee alongside Brazilian crowd-pleaser Jovane Guissone (also pictured above).
Guissone is the Paralympic silver medallist who made himself at home on the World Cup podium in 2022 with one gold and three bronze medals.
In the men’s sabre category B, Poland’s Adrian Castro is fresh off retaining his European title and a season in which he claimed a trio of World Cup wins.
But a rivalry continues to brew between Castro and Hungary’s Istvan Tarjanyi. The Hungarian was a consistent World Cup podium finisher but had never challenged for medals at the regional level. That was until December when he made it into the knock-out stages for the first time and landed in the final against Castro. Tarjanyi missed out on the gold but will no doubt be buoyed by his best ever performance.
Both the men’s and women’s category A will see similar levels of competition.
Hungary’s Amarilla Veres, the world No.1 and Paralympic champion, is set to get her season underway in the women’s epee alongside Great Britain’s No.2 Gemma Collis.
The USA have interest here too in the form of Americas silver medallist Shelby Jensen.
In the women’s foil Italy’s Andreea Mogos starts the new season as the top ranked seed. Mogos will be joined in Washington D.C. by Hong Kong’s multiple Paralympic medallist Yu Chui Yee and European champion Eva Andreja Hajmasi, among others.
Georgian Tokyo 2020 Paralympic silver medallist Nina Tibilashvili and Poland’s Kinga Drozdz, competing off the back of her first regional title, could heavily feature in the sabre.
In the men’s category A British Paralympic epee champion Piers Gilliver, Hungarian foil silver medallist Richard Osvath and sabre world No.1 Edoardo Giordan of Italy, will all line-up.
Washington D.C. 2023 will feature the full compliment of Paralympic individual and team events. The opening day of action on 14 January will see medals awarded in the women’s foil category A and B and men’s sabre category.
It is the second World Cup that will go towards qualification for Paris 2024.
The next edition will be held in Pisa, Italy, from 16-19 March followed by Nimes, France, from 20-23 April and Warsaw, Poland, from 6-9 July and Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, from 1-9 December.