GB Paralympic duo set sights on Rio gold after Hatfield simulation camp

Dimitri Coutya and Piers Gilliver will compete for GB's wheelchair fencing team at the Rio Paralympi

Dimitri Coutya and Piers Gilliver will compete for GB's wheelchair fencing team at the Rio Paralympics - Credit: Archant

Paralympic Games wheelchair fencing gold medal hopefuls Dimitri Coutya and Piers Gilliver have been making their final Rio 2016 preparations in Hatfield.

The Great Britain duo, who will both make their Paralympic debuts in Brazil, donned their protective gear for a simulation camp at the Hertfordshire Sports Village

Having both won silver at the 2015 World Championships in Eger, Hungary, world number one Gilliver and multi-time champion Coutya – all set to compete in the men’s category A epee and foil events – have their sights set on gold but they know it will be far from easy.

Speaking to WHT on Monday, Gilliver said: “It’s a really exciting time right now having worked for so many years to get to this point.

“I’m nervous because as the world number one I’m the one to watch and everyone is gunning for me.

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“Gold is the aim and I will do everything in my power to achieve that.”

Coutya added: “There’s a range of emotions going on.

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“There’s nerves because I’ve been told there’s new things to expect but there’s also huge excitement which is almost blotting out the nerves to be competing on the biggest sporting stage in the world.

“It’s a challenge that I feel I’m up to taking.

“I’m tired of getting silver medals. I don’t train to come second. I think it would take me a long time to appreciate anything other than a gold medal at the Games because that’s the pressure I put myself under. I just want to win gold.”

The Paralympians have a tough task if they are to better the achievements of the returning Olympians with Team GB managing an incredible second place in the medals table, beating China to the runners-up spot.

Coutya continued: “I’m proud to be British at the moment.

“To surpass what we achieved at our home Games in London and to finish above China is incredible.

“I’m sure there will be critical analysis of how we [GB Paralympians] do but I’m not worried about that. I’m just focussed on my event and we’ll see what happens.”

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have been faced with complications in the run-up to the Games with reported major budget cuts meaning fewer venues, workforces and transport than at this month’s Games but 21-year-old Gilliver, who is sponsored by a Hertfordshire-based fencing company, is refusing to let the speculation dampen what for many will be the highlight of their sporting careers.

Gilliver said: “We just have to focus on our event.

“We’ve worked so long and so hard for it and it’s always going to be our Paralympic Games whatever the circumstances so it’s just all about beating the person opposite you and winning the top prize.”

The pair begin their quest for gold on Monday, September 12.

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