Wheelchair fencing in 2022: Enthralling epee
The first International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing World Cup of 2022 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, is just days away.
Let’s take a look at some of the epeeists who will be out to impress there and at other World Cups and regional Championships in 2022.
Hungary’s Amarilla Veres got what she came for at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, winning her first Paralympic gold in the women’s epee category A. Actually, it was the Hungarian’s first ever major senior title since becoming the junior world champion in 2015.
As the World No.1, Veres should be excited about her chances for the season where she will try to claim her first European Championships win.
Nipping at her heels are the likes of China’s Jing Rong, who Veres faced for gold in Tokyo.
Tan you believe it
Followers of wheelchair fencing cannot help to have noticed the meteoric rise of China’s Shumei Tan since she made her international debut in 2018.
In just four seasons – two of which were heavily impacted by COVID-19 – Tan rose to the top of the women’s category B.
In 2019, just months after her first appearance, Tan grabbed the epee world title. Then at Tokyo 2020 she took the gold.
Thailand’s Saysunee Jana is one of her main competitors and returns to the piste in 2022 having won her fifth consecutive Paralympic epee medal last year.
Joining the list of athletes to have won their first gold on the biggest stage of them all in 2021 is Great Britain’s Piers Gilliver in the men’s category A.
Following on from his triumph at the 2019 Worlds, Gilliver is beginning 2022 as the world and Paralympic champion. The European title still eludes the 27-year-old having finished second at the last two editions.
Gilliver does however have a lot of competition to look over his shoulder at. These include two youngsters who have really started to find their form. Italian 23-year-old Emanuele Lambertini, who only just missed out on a World Championships medal three years ago, and Germany’s Maurice Schmidt, 22, a winner of multiple World Cup podiums.
Battle of the brawn
Two of the broadest competitors are set to highlight competition in the men’s category B once again – Great Britain’s Dmitri Coutya and Brazil’s Jovane Guissone.
Like his teammate Gilliver, Coutya reached the podium at Tokyo 2020 and for him it was the first time at that level with bronze.
Guissone meanwhile was determined to lay the ghosts of his home Paralympics at Rio 2016 to rest having failed to retain his title from London 2012. He made it into the gold medal match and left with silver.
As the respective World No.1 and No.2 fans can rely on Coutya and Guissone, amongst others, to entertain again this year.
Russo v Valainis?
In the men’s category C, the likes of Italy’s William Russo and Latvia’s Dmitrijs Valainis have shared a multitude of European and Worlds podiums and want to make an impact once again.
The 2022 calendar will open in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from 14-17 April with a World Cup.
After a series of World Cups, the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Asian Championships will see the first regional titles awarded in Hangzhou, China, from 10-15 October. The Americas Champs follow from 20-23 October and the Euros take place from 29 November – 4 December.