Wheelchair Fencers to take Montreal Piste


Some of the world’s top-ranked athletes will bout for five days at the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Grand Prix

The second major wheelchair fencing event of 2014 will take place in Montreal, Canada, this week when the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Grand Prix begins on Friday (2 May) at the Claude-Robillard Sport Complex.

For Canada’s top female wheelchair fencer, Ruth Sylvie Morel, the event has a special significance.

"It is in my country, my province and my town," said Morel. “There is pride in the fact that this is an international competition in Montreal, so there’s double the excitement."

And she is particularly looking forward to this year’s event, as it will be the first time Canada will be represented in the team event.

Morel competes in the women’s category A epee and sabre disciplines, and said she is never sure how competing in front of a home crowd will affect her when she takes to the piste.

"I want to do well in front of our fans" she said. "But does it help my performance? I don’t think so because I have a hard time relaxing, focusing, and even staying calm.

"I am always worried about not performing well – disappointing my coach, my family, my friends and myself.

"When I am outside my country I don’t feel so much pressure, go figure."

Currently ranked eighth in the world in the sabre and 10th in the epee event, added pressure comes from Morel’s desire not just to maintain her top-10 statuses, but to improve her ranking in both disciplines.

Morel, who also enjoys dragon boat racing and is a keen archer, is not short of confidence going into the Grand Prix, having made the podium in the sabre event at January’s World Cup event in Malchow, Germany.

“The training is going well,” she said. “I am surrounded by competent coaches. I have good partners to practice with and I am free of injuries or nasty colds."

Poland’s Dariusz Pender is also expected to steal the headlines in Montreal when he competes in the men’s epee category A event, which is the Paralympic champion and current world No. 1 in.

Germany’s Simone Briese-Baetke could steal the spotlight, too, in her events as she is the world’s No. 1 women’s epee category B fencer at the moment and No. 4 in the foil.

Two-time Paralympian Pierre Mainville hopes to join Morel in putting on a show for his home country in the men’s sabre and epee category B events, which he ranks No. 8 and 11 in the world in, respectively.

“It gives me the chance to have a competition on my home soil in front of my friends and family and it’s the only one that I don’t have to fight jetlag in,” Mainville joked, speaking to Paralympic.org.

All of the wheelchair fencers and more will be in action at the Grand Prix through to Monday (5 May).

By Mike Stuart

Image Credit Fotosports