Paralympics in Tokyo: Piers Gilliver and Dimitri Coutya appointed to wheelchair fencing team

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BBC Sport – Olympics
Gilliver became the first British wheelchair fencer in more than two decades to win a Paralympic medal when he took silver in Rio

Rio Paralympic Silver Medalist Piers Gilliver and World Champion Dimitri Coutya will lead the UK wheelchair fencing team in Tokyo 2020.

The couple are joined by Gemma Collis-McCann and debutant Oliver Lam-Watson.

Gilliver was runner-up in the Epee A event five years ago but won Epee Gold and Saber A Silver at the 2019 World Championships in Korea.

Coutya is world champion in the Epee B division and came second in the Foil B event.

“Winning a medal in Rio was a dream come true,” Gilliver told BBC Sport. “But after missing the win by just two points, it gave me the drive to keep going and try to go one step further in Tokyo.

“I’ve been more consistent since Rio. I’m hungry for gold and I’m really looking forward to the competition starting.

“But the mental side of wheelchair fencing is almost more important to me than the physical.

“At the top level, all competitors are very fast, long and powerful, so it depends on who is tactically one step ahead and can handle the pressure of the games environment.

“In four medal events, I have to be just as strong on the first day of competition as on the last day.”

Coutya made it to the quarter-finals in Rio and hopes he can improve in Japan.

“I can’t wait to come out and show myself – and the world – what this team can do,” he said.

Collis-McCann, the first British woman to win a gold medal at a World Fencing Championship, will play in her third games after her debut in London in 2012.

Lam-Watson, who uses his YouTube channel to debunk disability myths and talk about topics such as mental health, is enjoying his opportunity.

“Four years ago I was told that I would never be an athlete. So if you are young and disabled and you have a hard time, I understand. I was,” he said.

“I encourage you to dream big, let every moment count and not hear when they tell you to take it slow, play it safe. People will always tell you what you can’t do and that’s fine what you can’t. “

The Tokyo Paralympics will take place from August 24th to September 5th, the wheelchair fencing is scheduled from August 25th to 29th.

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