Hungary triumph in dramatic team foil final at Cheongju 2019


In the most enthralling match of the Championships so far, the Hungarians had to dig deep for the final after beating Paralympic champions China in another gruelling face-off earlier in the day.

Hungary claimed a dramatic gold at the 2019 International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing World Championships in Cheongju, South Korea, on Sunday (22 September), beating Hong Kong by just one touch in the women’s team foil.

In the most enthralling match of the Championships so far, the Hungarians had to dig deep for the final after beating Paralympic champions China in another gruelling face-off earlier in the day.

That feat was impressive enough as Zsuzsanna Krajnyak, Gyongi Dani and Eva Andrea Hajmasi put the ghosts of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games final to rest.

But more was to come for Hungary. They dispatched Russia 45-37 to secure their place in the final whilst Hong Kong reached their own impressive semi-final result.

Justine Charissa Ng, Yu Chui Yee and Yuen Ping Chung overcame defending champions Italy in their own marathon. That match ended with a difference of just two touches to Hong Kong.

With both finallists already fatigued from their earlier wins, it was mental stamina that would decide the winner.

Hong Kong started off well – both Ng and Yee won their matches to gain an early four-point lead of 10-6.

But then Paralympic bronze medallist and 2017 world champion Krajnyak took to the piste. She managed to gain the lead against Chung.

Hungary lost the edge in the next round but regained it soon after. The individual foil medallist from earlier on the week – Hajmasi – put in a great performance to give her team a larger, five-point buffer.

Krajnyak kept the momentum going but then Chung dismantled her opponents’ advantage against Gyongi to give Hong Kong a slender two-point lead.

Next Krajnyak faced Ng but there was very little to separate the two teams going into the final match.

Hajmasi and Yee watched on before it was their turn to try and land the decisive blows.

The pair traded hits in an evenly matched bout but it was Hajmasi who had the edge. She scored four points without reply.

But then Yee began her own comeback.

The Hong Kong fencer matched Hajmasi’s performance to dramatically bring the score level at 44-44. The next sequence saw both women celebrate a hit but after a video review the scoreline remained equal. With the atmosphere thick with excitement Hajmasi tore through the tension, lunging forward to land a touch on Yee’s chest and end the match.

“This is a very important competition for us because this is our first world title,” Hajmasi said. “The group [Hong Kong] was very hard and they are fighters, they were a very strong team.

“The first match [against China] was very technical and a very good match. And after the Russian team and after the Hong Kong team and we win, this is incredible!”

“We are so happy to get a silver medal for Hong Kong,” Yee said. “For the semi-final we beat Italy, it was our dream because all four of us did a very good job.

“In the final, Hungary today is just very strong because they beat China and then Russia and it was a tough match and maybe we were just a bit unlucky. We are still very happy for the silver medal and we will try our best to do our job and hope we will be seeing every one of you [our fans] during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

“We established a very good team spirit because no matter if we were lagging behind or we were winning, we never gave up. All our teammates and the coaches, even though they are not fencing, they are cheering for us which was amazing. We also found some of our weaknesses and our strengths, which we will try to improve so for the next World Cup in Amsterdam we will be stronger.”

In the bronze medal match world and Paralympic champion Beatrice Vio, Loredana Trigilia and Andrea Mogos led throughout their tie with 2017 silver medallists Russia.

Iuliia Maya, Alena Evdokimova and Ludmila Vasileva kept within touching distance of Italy early on. However the Italians were too strong and the match ended 45-23.

In the men’s sabre the Chinese team of Hao Li, Jianquan Tian and Yanke Feng made Ukraine sweat for their gold.

Paralympic champion Andrii Demchuk, Dmytro Serozhenko and Artem Manko were 15 points ahead going into the last round and looked certain to take the title.

But Tian, fresh from his individual sabre win earlier in the week, had other ideas. A storming performance from the 29-year-old Paralympic bronze medallist against Demchuk saw him score 14 hits to bring his team’s total to 39.

Demchuk however managed to kept calm and reach the magic 45 before Tian had enough time to catch him.

When asked what his tactics were to see off the challenge from Tian, the Ukrainian joked: “The tactics were to make five touches before he made 20!”

“It was the plan from the very beginning that from the start of the bout we tried to do our best. But in the end, we don’t know how it will go. The plan worked, thanks to my team and coach.”

Russia took the final place on the podium after beating Hungary 45-32.

Mikhail Karpov, Maxim Shaburov and Alexander Kurzin built a convincing lead over the duration of their match against Richard Osvath, Istvan Tarjanyi and Sandor Zsolnai.

The 2019 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Championships run from 17-23 September. As well as the world titles on offer, the competition is also a crucial stop on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Competition concludes on Monday (23 September) with the men’s epee and women’s sabre.

Full results are available here as well as live results during the competition. The Worlds are also being shown on Facebook and YouTube.