The 2018 fencing season for me seems to have flown by. Just when I felt I was getting back into my flow again, following my World cup Epee Gold in Pisa back in March, I had a long break until the next competition in July, Warsaw World cup, where I took Epee Gold, Sabre Bronze & Team Foil Silver! These results were all the more pleasing given that Warsaw always attracts all of the top fencers and so is a really good gauge of level your fencing’s at, so I guess that this added to my frustration when I was unable to top the podium again, having to settle for Silver at the European Championships that were held in Terni, Italy in September.
Wheelchair fencing runs with a World cup series every year, World & European Championships alternating years and a Paralympic Games every four years. Having been a Silver medalist in all of these events over the previous 5 years and now that, as of September 2018, the qualification period for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games has started, I am determined to turn Silver into Gold!
The Tokyo qualifiers run from September 2018 to May 2020, so it’s a long haul to secure the top rankings to gain a place, and it’s guaranteed to be hard fought until the finish!
As I am sure all athletes will be, my coach and I are working hard to address technique, training method, areas for improvement alongside fitness and injury prevention. This certainly gave me the solid start to the Tokyo qualifiers as I took Gold at the World Cup in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Looking back at Tbilisi, I only dropped one of my poule matches but this was enough to leave me going through to the D.E ranked 7th, which resulted in my having a difficult run through to the Gold.
I had a L64 Bye to the L32 where I met London 2012 Paralympic Silver medalist Romain Noble and having won that match 15-4, I went through to the L16 to meet the Chinese fencer Chen, where I took the match 15-6. I then progressed to the L8, it was here that I was to come up against the first of three Russian fencers, Yusapov – this match I won 15-11. I then went on to face Fedyaev in the L4 and took the win 15-7 to secure my place in the Final where I met my nemesis Maxim Shaburov. I am thrilled to report that I won the match 15-12, taking the Gold medal and maximum points for the first of the qualifiers!
So now it’s head down in order to get ready for the next event which will be a World cup in Kyoto, Japan which runs from the 13th to 16th December2018. This is the first wheelchair fencing World cup to be held in Japan, I believe, and given that the 2020 Games will be held in Tokyo, Japan, I’m really excited to be visiting the country and to attend the last qualifier in the 2018 season.
In 2019, qualifying resumes with a World cup being held at the IWAS World Games in Sharjah U.A.E and runs from the 10th-16th February 2019.
I will update you all with the results from Japan & Sharjah and will be doing my very best to bring good news!
Best wishes, Piers.