13/03/2024- GBR Fencer


GBR wheelchair fencers achieved considerable success in Paris ahead of this year’s Paralympics

This year’s Wheelchair Fencing European Championships took place in Paris on the 5th-10th March, as a qualifier to the 2024 Paralympic Games.

On the first day alone, GBR claimed medals in three of four categories.

After being defeated by Andrii Demchuk (UKR) in the semi-final at the previous World Cup in Cardiff, Piers Gilliver returned to take the title in the Men’s Sabre A. He defeated Demchuk in a decisive 15-10 victory, following on from an already strong performance throughout the day.

Gilliver in action. (Photo: D-Echelard, World Ability Sport)


After his win, Piers said, “This is excellent preparation for Paris, and brilliant to come out on top after Demchuk beat me in Cardiff.”

L-R: Demchuk (UKR), Gilliver, Edoardo (ITA), Dei Rossi (ITA) (Photo: D-Echelard, World Ability Sport)


Day one also saw silver medals in the Men’s Sabre B and Women’s Epee A. Dimitri Coutya performed well in the former, defeating 2nd seed Maxime Valet on home soil 15-11 in the semi-final. He was eventually defeated by Poland’s Adrian Castro 7-15 in the final, taking home a silver medal.

Following this result, Dimitri commented: “Thrilled, elated and surprised. I hope to carry the performance forward to the Games in the summer.”

L-R: Coutya, Castro (POL), Valet (UKR), Datsko (UKR) (Photo: D-Echelard, World Ability Sport)


In the Women’s Epee A, Gemma Collis won a silver medal. Being her first medal at a European Championships event, it marked a significant moment in her fencing career. Gemma remained on dominant form throughout the day, taking down Linor Kelman (ISR) 15-5 in the last eight, followed by Judith Rodriguez Menendez (ESP) 15-8 in the semi-final.

In a close and intense match, Gemma was eventually defeated 15-14 by Yevheniia Breus (UKR) in the final.

Collis and coach Baldip Sahota (Photo: D-Echelard, World Ability Sport)


After winning her silver medal, Gemma said,

“I’m absolutely delighted to come away with silver. Of course there’s a little disappointment too as I came so close to the gold – but ultimately this is my first major Championships medal so I’m really proud of the way I performed and managed my emotions throughout the day. I’m so grateful as always to my incredible team – this feels like another breakthrough for us, and makes me even more excited to see what we can achieve together.”

L-R: Collis, Breus (UKR), Fidrych (POL), Rodriguez Menendez (ESP) (Photo: D-Echelard, World Ability Sport)


Day one also saw strong performances from our other GBR fencers. Justine Moore earned a top five finish in the Women’s Epee B. In the Women’s Epee A, Emily Holder and Susanne Seddon-Cowell finished 15th and 16th, respectively.

In the Men’s Sabre A, Oliver Lam-Watson finished 9th, and James Burke 13th at his first major championship event. Shah Rashid also finished 9th in the Men’s Sabre B.

Lam-Watson defeats Sandor (HUN) in the poules. (Photo: D-Echelard, World Ability Sport)


Day two featured the Women’s Epee team and Men’s Sabre team events. This time, GBR did not field a Women’s Epee team. In the latter, meanwhile, the team featured Dimitri, James and Shah. Despite being defeated by eventual winners Ukraine, all fencers put in a brilliant effort with strong teamwork.

ADP Para Fencing Lead, Nathaniel Lewis, commented,

“Great matches, all supported one another fantastically – Dim led the team like a champ, Shah proved a huge problem for the Cat A fencers, James did brilliantly in his first team match in his first ever major championships – went 5-5 against Demchuk who won silver in the individual Sabre yesterday.”

L-R: Burke, Rashid, Coutya (Photo: Nathaniel Lewis)


With the third day came more GBR success. In the Men’s Foil B, Dimitri successfully defended his title of European Champion following his victory over Maxime Valet (FRA) 15-10 in the final. This followed strong performances against Michele Massa (ITA) 15-11 in the semi-final, and Adrian Castro (POL) 15-3 in the last eight.

World Class Programme Performance Manager, Matt Hammond said,

“It was an impressive performance in a strong field, and a fantastic result to win the final against Valet on home soil.”

L-R: Valet (FRA), Coutya, Massa (ITA), Serozhenko (UKR) (Photo: D-Echelard, World Ability Sport)


Across all categories, the standard of competition was high. Shah finished 12th in the Men’s Foil B. In category A, Oliver and Piers earned top eight finishes: 7th and 8th, respectively. Joshua also finished 18th. Gemma finished 12th in the Sabre, with teammate Susanne finishing 17th.

Day four saw more team action. The GBR Men’s Foil Team of Piers, Dimitri, Oliver and Joshua sought to defend their title as European Champions, having been victorious at the 2022 Championships in Warsaw. After defeating France 45-42 in a close and intense battle, they dominated the final against Italy, coming away with a 45-28 win and another gold medal.

GBR Men’s Foil Team celebrating their win. (Photo: D-Echelard, World Ability Sport)


On day five of the competition, Piers and Dimitri aimed to defend their titles of European Champion in the Men’s Epee A and B. After defeating Edoardo Giordan (ITA) 15-4 and Matteo Dei Rossi (ITA) 15-12, Piers went on to beat Oleksii Zakusylov (UKR) 15-13 in the final.

After this victory, Piers said,

“Brilliant to fence so strongly even as the Championships come to a close – this sets me up well for the team event, where it’ll be brilliant to fence with all the guys.”

L-R: Zakusylov (UKR), Gilliver, Schmidt (GER), Dei Rossi (ITA) (Photo: D-Echelard, World Ability Sport)


Meanwhile in the Men’s Epee B, Dimitri defeated Andrei Pranevich 15-13 in the final, following on from his wins over Yohan Peter (FRA) 15-10 and Michele Massa (ITA) 15-7.

Richard Collins, Head of Performance at UKSI, said of Dimitri’s win: “Another clinical execution showing that Dimitri continues his dominant display.”

Coutya receiving his Gold medal. (Photo: D-Echelard, World Ability Sport)


Day five saw strong fencing from our other GBR athletes. In the A category, Oliver finished 8th, Joshua 15th, and James 21st. Emily finished 14th in the Women’s Foil A, and Justine 13th in the B.

Moore in action. (Photo: D-Echelard, World Ability Sport)


The final day of fencing featured another team event. Our Men’s Epee team of Dimitri, Oliver and Joshua were in action. After defeating Poland 45-39, they were beaten narrowly by Ukraine, the final result 45-43. They were not down, however, and went on to defeat France 45-36 in the 3rd place play-off. With this, they won bronze.

GBR Men’s Epee Team celebrating their Bronze. (Photo: D-Echelard, World Ability Sport)


This was a fantastic set of results and a strong performance from the GBR squad, and we wish them all the best as they continue on their qualification journey to the 2024 Paralympic Games.

The full results from the European Championships can be found here.


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