Saskatoon 2018: Americas titles on the piste

Wheelchair fencers clash for regional prizes

a male wheelchair fencer holding a foil and his helmet Pierre Mainville is a three-time Paralympian and 2016 Americas champion © • Getty Images

The 2018 Wheelchair Fencing Americas Championships will kick start a series of regional competitions in Saskatoon, Canada, from Friday (14 September).

Athletes will battle for Americas titles until 16 September, followed by the European Championships in Terni, Italy, from 17-23 September; and then the Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 6-13 October.

Brazil’s men’s epee category B London 2012 Paralympic champion Jovane Guissone is on a mission to return to his best and capture another gold.

Guissone is also the defending Americas title holder in the foil. So far in 2018 Guissone has grabbed three World Cup bronzes in Montreal, Canada; Pisa, Italy; and Eger, Hungary in the event.

“I feel like our work has paid off, but I am still far from reaching my goals for this season,” Guissone said. “I definitely feel the obligation to win and to perform well.”

Guissone’s teammate Vanderson Chaves will also take to the piste in Saskatoon. The pair went head-to-head in the foil gold medal match at the last Americas Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil, before Guissone emerged the victor.

Argentina’s Hugo Alderete is another main contender as the bronze medallist from two years ago. Triple Paralympian Pierre Mainville will represent Canadian hopes in the event.

In the men’s sabre category A another hometown favourite, Ryan Rousell, will be hoping to convert some good performances in 2018 into regional success.

The 21-year-old won gold at the Montreal World Cup in April. He also clinched bronze at the under-17 and under-23 World Championships in Warsaw, Poland, in July.

“There is always going to be pressure to compete at home, however I feel it will be much greater,” Rousell said. “At home they’ll be there watching me, so I will say the pressure of living up to their expectations will definitely be higher. I haven’t been spending my entire summer training so I have to work to get back into top shape before the event but I have no doubt that when it begins I will be more than ready for whatever challenges I have to overcome.”

The women’s foil category A has seen fencers from the Americas jostling for position so far this season.

Brazil’s Karina Maia is the defending champion in this event. Maia was also the top finisher from the region at the Montreal World Cup. The Brazilian registered a top 10 finish with ninth, beating Canada’s Ruth Sylvia Morell by one place.

At the last Americas Championships Morell herself left with silver.

The USA’s Shelby Jensen will be another athlete to watch. At the most recent World Cup, also in Warsaw, Jensen was the top ranked Americas athlete.

Live results from the 2018 Wheelchair Fencing Americas Championships will be available online.