World Cup set to heat-up in Warsaw
A stacked field of 250 wheelchair fencers from more than 30 countries have arrived in Warsaw, Poland, for the third International Wheelchair and Amputee Sport (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing World Cup of 2022 which gets underway on Thursday (7 July).
The competition will bring the first, exciting portion of the season to a close. Afterwards, athletes will return home to prepare for the European and Americas Championships and the end of the World Cup circuit from September onwards.
Hosts Poland will put their best fencers on display in Warsaw, which will also stage the Euros from 29 November – 4 December.
These include top seed Kinga Drozdz in the women’s sabre category A. The 27-year-old made her season debut at the last World Cup in Chon Buri, Thailand, in May, finishing second in a great start to the year.
“The World Cup will be an exam to me and the next part in preparation to the European Championships,” Drozdz said. “I got my own goals, and I will leave it a mystery. I am going to fence in sabre, foil and epee individually as well as together with my epee team, we will fight for a win. I wish the Polish national anthem will be the most frequently sung anthem during July’s World Cup. I am sure that the Polish team will be very well prepared.”
The competition could see another clash between Drozdz and World No.2 Nino Tibilashvili of Georgia. The pair faced each other in Thailand with Tibilashvili emerging the victor.
Drozdz will also take to the piste later this year hunting for her first European medal, whilst Tibilashvili aims to improve on her silver from 2018.
Poland will also pin their medal hopes on Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games silver medallist, European champion and World No.1 Adrian Castro in the men’s sabre category B.
On his first outing of 2022, again in Chon Buri, Castro topped the podium in the weapon and shows no signs of slowing down in his 13th year of international competition.
France’s Maxime Valet, himself a veteran of more than 10 years with the added incentive of a home Paralympics on the horizon, proved he still has what it takes to finish amongst the medals. Valet took gold and silver from World Cups in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Thailand, respectively.
Another of Poland’s main contenders is Michael Nalewajek in the men’s foil category A. The 29-year-old reached his best ever World Cup finish in the weapon in Thailand, finishing second.
Hungary’s Richard Osvath and Italy’s Emanuele Lambertini are ahead of Nalewajek in the world rankings in the foil. Both athletes will be looking for a strong performance, Osvath in particular as he builds-up towards the defence of his European bronze.
Elsewhere in the women’s, Georgia’s Irma Khetsuriani lines-up as the world No.1 in the women’s sabre category B and second in the foil.
Two Hungarians – Paralympic champion Amarilla Veres and Eva Andreja Hajmasi – are amongst the top seeds in the respective epee and foil category A. Hong Kong’s Yu Chui Yee heads out in the foil as the World No.2.
Warsaw 2022 will also see the return of Ukrainian athletes to the piste. These include Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Artem Manko in the men’s sabre category A and multiple world champion Serhii Shavkun in the men’s category C events.
In the team events Great Britain enter the men’s foil as the Paralympic silver medallists. And following on from the successful debuts of the mixed team epee and foil in Sao Paulo and Chon Buri, the mixed sabre will make its first appearance.
The Warsaw 2022 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Cup runs from 7-10 July.