24 August 2021

Wheelchair fencing star Gilliver switches attention to epee following early sabre exit

A disappointed Piers Gilliver immediately turned his focus to the epee after a frustrating morning in the sabre for ParalympicsGB’s wheelchair fencing stars.

Gilliver was eliminated from the men’s sabre A at the round of 16 stage following a gruelling contest with China’s Li Hao at the Makuhari Messe in Tokyo.

The 26-year-old from Gloucester went down 15-12 to Li after emerging from Pool 3 thanks to victories over France’s Romain Noble (5-0) and Russian Paralympic Committee’s Nikita Nagaev (5-2), despite defeats to Artem Manko of Ukraine (5-2) and China’s Tian Jianquan (5-0).

Gilliver returns to the piste on Thursday for the epee discipline, where he’ll look to go one better than the silver medal he claimed in Rio five years ago.


I must put it behind me and get focused on tomorrow as the epee is my stronger event. I am confident I can put in a good performance.

Piers Gilliver

“I am very disappointed with today because it was a tough draw in the elimination round after the pool matches didn’t really go as I’d hoped,” admitted Gilliver.

“I fought well, and I just managed to miss out, which is tough to take. Now I must put it behind me and get focused on tomorrow as the epee is my stronger event.

“I am confident I can put in a good performance.”

Piers Gilliver won epee silver at Rio 2016

It was also a difficult morning for Gemma Collis-McCann, who was eliminated from the women’s sabre A following four consecutive defeats in Pool 3.

The 28-year-old from Manchester – fencing at her third Paralympic Games – lost 5-1 in her opener against Hungary’s Eva Andrea Hajmasi before falling to Poland’s Marta Fidrych and Ukraine’s Nataliia Morkvych by the same scoreline.

Collis-McCann put in her best performance of the morning against Italy’s Ionela Andreea Mogos in a tight 5-4 loss, but it wasn’t enough for her to advance to the knockout stages.

However, much like Gilliver, she will return to the Makuhari Messe to compete in a discipline she prefers on Thursday – the women’s individual epee.

She said: “I am disappointed but tomorrow is my stronger event, so I need to re-focus now.

“I didn’t have the trust in myself to attack, which is my strength, but I improved in the last fight and actually thought I’d got that one.

“I had changed the weapon in this cycle, so I hadn’t had a lot of time, and Paris was probably a more realistic aim for the sabre.

“I had put in some really solid work and had made some big improvements, but I didn’t really handle the mental side of things in the first two fights.”

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