Young talent set to shine at Rio 2016 as wheelchair fencers make their Games debut
Meet multi-world cup medallists Dimitri Coutya and Piers Gilliver who have been selected to represent ParalympicsGB in wheelchair fencing at Rio 2016, with Chef de Mission Penny Briscoe MBE announcing the team at Tate Britain in London.
Great Britain has enjoyed success in the Rio cycle, with investment in new talent ensuring a medal at every competition in the qualifying period.
The two athletes are set to make their Paralympic debut in Rio but head to the Games with an impressive array of World Cup titles between them, and each has a silver World Championship medal to their name. It is a particularly exciting time for the sport, as British fencers have not topped the podium at a Paralympic Games since Caz Walton OBE won gold in the epée at Seoul ’88.
Eighteen year-old Dimitri Coutya, who hails from London, won silver in the category B foil event at the 2015 World Championships and also claimed silver in foil and bronze in epée at the 2016 European Championships. He has also become a regular presence on the podium on the World Cup circuit.
"I am very determined to go out to Rio and show people just what I am capable of achieving." Dimitri Coutya
Speaking today, he said: “To represent your country at the Paralympic Games is the greatest privilege in our sport and I’ve worked incredibly hard over the last few years to stake my place on the team. I am very determined to go out to Rio and show people just what I am capable of achieving, and also to help shine a spotlight on our sport.
“I’d like to thank my family, friends, support team and my school, St. Benedict’s, for everything that they’ve done to help me pursue my dream, and I hope I can give performances in Rio that make them all proud.”
Piers Gilliver, 21, is set to make his Paralympic debut alongside Coutya in the men’s category A competition. Currently ranked at the top of his class in epée, Piers has also enjoyed considerable success in the build-up to Rio, winning three back-to-back World Cup titles and silver in the epée at the 2015 World Championships and 2016 European Championships.
"Many years of hard work has gone towards achieving this goal and I’m pleased that all the hours of training have paid off." Piers Gilliver
He said: “I am so happy to be part of the ParalympicsGB team for Rio 2016. Many years of hard work has gone towards achieving this goal and I’m pleased that all the hours of training have paid off.
“I’m going to make every second count before I head out to compete in Rio as it’s going to be the biggest competition of my career so far. I hope the nation will supercharge the team to personal best performances – their support will make all the difference.”
Penny Briscoe, Chef de Mission of ParalympicsGB, said:“It’s a real privilege as Chef de Mission to welcome both Dimitri and Piers to the team today. Both athletes got their first taste of the Games thanks to the BPA’s Paralympic Inspiration Programme at London 2012, and after following their incredible progress over the last few years I am delighted to confirm that they are part of the team for Rio.
“It is also testament to the tremendous work of the athletes, their support team and coaches, who have shown fantastic commitment to secure their place on the team with a strong and proven track record. They have really laid down the gauntlet for their rivals in Rio, and I wish them all the very best as they undertake their final preparations for the Games.”
Shuna Body MBE, Team Leader for wheelchair fencing, said: “I am incredibly proud of both Dimitri and Piers today, and of the team effort that has supported them to such incredible success over this Paralympic cycle, culminating in their selection today.
“While we are very happy with the results they have achieved so far, we will maintain an intensive focus on their training and preparation to ensure that they go into the Games in the best possible place.”
Today’s announcement takes the number of selected athletes to 182 from 16 sports.
Selected athletes are:
Home town: Ealing, London
Main training base: London
Home town: Drybrook, Forest of Dean, Gloucester
Main training base: University of Bath