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Ecstatic Coutya crowned wheelchair fencing world champion

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1 week ago

Dimitri Coutya won’t ever forget the moment he became wheelchair fencing world champion.

All it took was one final swish, one last casual glance towards the scoreboard and one emphatic exclamation later and it was all his.

It is something this 19-year-old will remember for a long time and, thanks to fellow competitor Gemma Collis-McCann – who captured the last point on video – he will have a chance to watch it on repeat.

Escaping the pool stage as foil male senior individual Category B second rank, everything was in place for this to be in the offing for the Rio 2016 Paralympian.

And having watched top seed Maxime Valet be knocked out in the semi-finals, Coutya suddenly entered his gold-medal contest with Anton Datsko as favourite for the crown.

He was to deliver on that promise and in some style too, defeating the Ukrainian 15-9 to reaffirm his status as world No.1 in a sport that he absolutely cherishes.

“There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you score a point,” the first line of his website reads.

“If you are an athlete, like me, you will most probably be able to relate to that rush of excitement that bursts from your heart and goes gunning across the rest of your body when you arc the ball through the net, fire the arrow into the bull’s eye or in my case, accelerate a sword point at blinding speeds and hit an opponent’s body.”

Those blinding speeds were evident throughout the day in Rome, victorious in all five of his round-robin contests to automatically take his spot in the last 16.

In direct elimination, it was to only get better for Coutya, defeating Italy’s Gabriele Leopizzi 15-5 and then Zbigniew Wyganowski from Poland 15-6.

The semi-final, against third-ranked Jacek Gaworski was to be the closest of them all ending 15-13 before his final, 17 years after suffering a T4 level spinal cord injury when he was hit by a car.

That means Coutya cannot move or feel anything roughly below the chest area but, with a world title now safely his, the Paralympian has taken his love for fencing to a new level.

He was not the only British hopeful competing in Italy as Collis-McCann battled it out in the epee female Category A competition.

Victorious in all but one of her pool games saw her breeze through to the direct elimination, into the last 16, but it wasn’t to be against Marta Fidrych, missing out 15-8 to the Pole in an entertaining encounter.

Coutya is immediately back in action as soon as Wednesday as he goes in the epee male Category B, while Collis-McCann also competes in the foil.

Piers Gilliver also gets his World Championships underway in the sabre event.

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