Wheelchair fencing opens at Hangzhou 2023 Asian Para Games
Hosts China dominated competition on the opening day of action at the Asian Para Games 2023 on Monday (23 October), sweeping all golds in the men’s sabre and women’s foil.
Paralympic and world champion Yanke Feng was in action in the men’s sabre category B. Fresh from winning his first world title in the weapon and fourth overall in Terni, Italy, the 35-year-old once again proved impossible to beat.
Feng took on teammate Jie Zhang for gold, beating him 15-10. Zhang’s silver will however still be a boost for the man who returned to the pistes in 2023 after two years away. It also follows his bronze from Terni 2023.
The rest of the medals also went to China as Fanli Zhu and Benjun Qin occupied the third spot on the podium.
Jianquan Tian upgraded his Worlds bronze medal to gold in the men’s sabre category A. At the last Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2018, Tian settled for silver. But in the absence of defending champion Yijun Chen, Tian was able to fly.
He emerged the victor from a close match with compatriot Yang Cheng, beating him by three points.
Hao Li and Saichun Zhong completed the second Chinese podium sweep of the day with bronze.
The women’s competition delivered medals for Thailand and Hong Kong amongst the host’s dominance, but China still grabbed both golds.
Another Paralympic and world champion – Haiyan Gu – beat defending title holder Yu Chui Yee of Hong Kong on her way to the win in the women’s foil category A.
Gu secured a place in the final after getting past Yee in the semi-final and met Worlds bronze medallist Yuandong Chen in the final.
Chen made Gu work for her win, leading comfortably for more than half of the match and forcing Gu to execute a stunning comeback. Gu came back from 10-4 down, landing five hits without reply to bring herself within one point of Chen. The pair stayed close throughout a tense conclusion before Gu managed to put some clean air between them.
“I’ve often encountered this situation (falling behind in the score) abroad as well, and today I just kept imploring myself not to be too hasty and to hold on a little,” Gu said after her 15-12 win. “Hearing the crowd all cheering for us, I felt the support and encouragement from the people in my own country, and I felt proud to play here. Being accompanied with the lights and the music, it’s a hot atmosphere.”
World Championships silver medallist Xufeng Zhou and Yee took bronze.
On her Asian Para Games debut five years ago, Xiao Rong left the women’s foil category B competition empty handed with fifth place.
That all changed on Monday as Rong – who won silver in Terni – added gold to her sabre win from 2018.
An evenly matched final bout against Kang Su saw the lead swap multiple times as both women launched full-blooded attempts to get to the magic 15 first.
In the end, Rong just managed to edge to victory by landing two points in quick succession.
Thailand’s Saysunee Jana landed on the podium with bronze, repeating her performance from the World Championships. China’s Jingjing Zhou also grabbed bronze.
On Tuesday (24 October), attention will turn to the first team events with the men’s foil and women’s sabre taking place.
Wheelchair fencing at the Asian Para Games continues until Friday (28 October) and features individual competition in the men’s and women’s foil, epee and sabre category A and B and team events in all three weapons.
The competition acts as the 2023 Asian Championships and offers crucial qualification points for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.