World’s finest wheelchair fencers back in action


After a short interlude, the world's best wheelchair fencers return to competition at the Grand Prix in Warsaw, Poland later this month.

After a short interlude, the world’s best wheelchair fencers return to competition at the Grand Prix in Warsaw, Poland later this month.

Following June’s European Wheelchair Fencing Championships in Strasbourg, France, the recently published world rankings have seen a number of changes going into this month’s Warsaw Grand Prix in Poland.

The event, which takes place 25-28 September, will see Poland’s Dariusz Pender hoping to benefit from the support of the passionate home crowd. Strong results in 2014 have seen Pender regain No.1 status in the men’s category A epee discipline.

However, France’s Romain Noble, who Pender displaced at the top of the standings, seems intent on ensuring Pender’s reign as World No.1 is short-lived. Noble was the victor in a fierce battle when the two met at the European Championships. Spectators will be hoping the rivalry is reignited when the pair take to the piste in Warsaw.

Hungary’s Richard Osvath is another to watch out for in Poland. The Hungarian star will be hoping to consolidate his position at the top of the men’s category A foil rankings with a third title in a row. Osvath took the number one spot from France’s Damien Tokatlian with back-to-back wins – at the World Cup event in Lonato, Italy, in May, then at the European Championships.

Another Hungarian star to watch out for is the experienced competitor Zsuzsanna Krajnyak. Currently ranked second in the world in the women’s category A foil discipline, Krajnyak won gold in Strasbourg. By doing so, she reduced the gap to World No.1 Yu Chui Yee of Hong Kong from 79 points to just 31.

Krajnyak did not perform as well with the epee at the European Championships, finishing in fifth place. As a result, she lost the No.1 ranking in the discipline to the new European Champion, Poland’s Marta Fidrych. It remains very close in points at the top, however, so Fidrych will be hoping to take home advantage when she competes in Warsaw.

In the men’s category B foil discipline, Ukraine’s Anton Datsko restored a seemingly unassailable lead with his victory in Strasbourg. By winning his first major event of 2014, Datsko put 100 points between him and his nearest rival.

It is a different story in the men’s category B epee event, where just 54 ranking points separate the top four competitors. The reigning Paralympic champion, Brazil’s Jovane Silva-Guissone, will need to win in Warsaw if he’s to keep France’s Marc Andre Cratere and Russia’s Alexander Kuzyukov from claiming his World No.1 status.

Perhaps the only reigning World No.1 who can relax is Simone Briese-Baetke. The German’s lead in the rankings is so great that it would take a long run of poor form to see her displaced.

Not that there is any sign of Briese-Baetke becoming complacent, however. The experienced competitor has been on the podium every time she has competed this year, winning three of four events. And few would bet against her adding another title to her impressive list in Warsaw.