Wheelchair Fencing Review: Day One @ Rio 2016 Paralympic Games


Anton Datsko and Andrii Demchuk both take sabre gold on the opening day of fencing at Rio 2016 Paralympics.

Ukraine’s World No.1 Anton Datsko always looked in control on Monday (12 September) as he fenced his way to the men’s sabre category Btitle.

The gold medal match was a repeat of May’s European Championship final in Strasbourg, France, with Datsko facing Greece’s Panagiotis Triantafyllou.

Datsko won in Strasbourg and it was to be the same result in Rio. After a tentative start, the Ukrainian soon took control, eventually winning 15-7.

Speaking afterwards, Datkso said that he was careful that his good track record against Triantafyllou did not make him complacent.

“In individual competition I have beaten him (Triantafyllou), but at the recent World Cup in Poland I lost to him in the team event, so I used this as the main motivation instead,” Datsko explained. “When you win you don’t have motivation, but when you lose you are even more motivated to win next time."

“I wanted to win and I planned it carefully, but the question I’m asking myself now is ‘is it real? Am I really a champion?’, but it’s a great feeling I love it.”

There was more joy to come for Ukraine in the men’s category A sabre event.

It was China’s fencers that had been expected to battle it out for the gold medal, but they faltered on day one and Ukraine’s Andrii Demchuk took full advantage.

Defending champion Yijun Chenseemed to struggle finding his rhythm right from the start, eventually losing in the quarter final against Greece’s Vasileios Ntoudis.

That left Chen’s teammate and current world champion Jianquan Tian as China’s only hope for gold, but he had to settle for bronze after defeat to Demchuk in the semi-final.

Demchuk then never looked like losing against Hungary’s Richard Osvath in the final, taking advantage of his opponent’s hesitations to win 15-8.

For Demchuk, sharing the celebrations with his friend and training partner Datsko makes them all the more special.

“It was my dream to win the medal, I was preparing for it for so long, and I didn’t believe until the last second that I would win.” Demchuk said. “He (Anton Datsko) is my best friend, we’re from the same city, Lviv, and it was my unreal dream to win two gold sabre medals.

The same sentiment was echoed by Datsko.

"We both wanted to win and we’ve been training together,” he said. “It’s like a dream now, we still cannot believe it, it’s a massive win for us.”

The wheelchair fencing action continues in Carioca Arena 3 on Tuesday (13 September) with the men’s and women’s individual epee events.