Wheelchair fencers look for strong finish in Kyoto

World Cup serves as last competition of 2018

female wheelchair fencer Zsuzsanna Krajnyak dodges away from the foil Zsuzsanna Krajnyak is the world No. 1 in both foil and epee © • Getty Images

The final wheelchair fencing World Cup of the year will get underway in Kyoto, Japan, from 13-16 December, featuring some of the sport’s biggest names. A busy year of regional Championships will fittingly end in Japan with athletes firmly on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

In the women’s epee and foil category A, Hungarian double world champion Zsuzsanna Krajnyak will face a strong field.

Her teammate Eva Hajmasi delivered an upset at the European Championships in Terni, Italy, in September, claiming the foil title.

Hong Kong’s Yu Chui Yee is also in good form, entering the World Cup as the Asian champion.

Krajnyak has however reached the podium in the foil five times at World Cups in 2018, including three wins. The Hungarian is also the current world No.1 in both the foil and the epee.

In the epee, Ukraine’s World Championships bronze medallist Yevheniia Breus will line up as well as silver medallist Yee.

Men’s competition

The men’s epee category B will feature the latest clash between Great Britain’s world champion Dmitri Coutya and Belarusian Paralympic champion Andrei Pranevich.

Pranevich is determined to end the year on a high after what he feels has been a disappointing 12 months: “I estimate my performance in individual competitions in 2018 as bad as all goals have not been achieved. Together with my coach we have to analyse the results and to make the correction work in order to improve them.

“Like any athlete, [I want] to win the World Cup in individual epee.”

Coutya is the top ranked fencer having claimed the European title and three World Cup victories.

But the British fencer’s dominance has been challenged recently. Iraq’s Ammar Ali beat him to gold at the last World Cup in Tbilisi, Georgia, in November, breaking his unbeaten run.

Ali will try to do so again in Kyoto.

In the sabre category B, Canada’s Pierre Mainville will compete as the Americas champion.

European gold medallist Adrian Castro of Poland, the world No.1, takes on Mainville and a host of other top athletes.

These include Greece’s Paralympic silver medallist Panagiotis Triantafyllou. Japan’s Ryuji Onda will represent the hopes of the hosts as the second-place finisher from the Asian Championships.

The Kyoto World Cup is the second competition to take place within the qualification period for Tokyo 2020. A further five World Cups and World Championships in Cheongju, South Korea, from 24-30 September will take place in 2019.