Huge congratulations to Dimitri Coutya, an Upper Sixth student at St Benedict’s School in Ealing, who has put himself in an excellent position to qualify for the Rio Paralympics in both Foil and Epee Wheelchair Fencing Category B. Dimitri competed in the European Championships held in Turin, Italy on 17-22 May, winning a silver medal in the Foil and a bronze in the Epee.
The Foil event was first and Dimitri had work to do after coming through the poules ranked seventh out of seventeen. This gave him a less favourable seeding in the knock-out stages and he had to work hard to record wins over Alessio Sarri of Italy by 15-14 (last 16) and over Anton Datsko from Ukraine (quarter-final) by 15-13. In the semi-final Marco Cima from Italy provided stiff opposition before Dimitri won 15-14 but the final against Maxime Valet proved a step too far and the Frenchman triumphed by 15-11 leaving Dimitri with the silver.
In the Epee Dimitri was ranked third after the poules in a slightly bigger field of twenty-two. He recorded victories over Grzegorz Lewonowski of Poland by 15-10 and Alexander Kuzyukov of Russia by 15-11 before going down in the semi-final 10-15 to Yannick Ifebe of France who went on to win the gold medal.
Dimitri felt quite overwhelmed after the tournament: “Going to Rio is something I have been training for and dreaming of for years. I am very happy and really hoping that I will now be selected.”
Denis Cranwell, Head of Fencing at St Benedict’s School, commented: “Dimitri has worked so hard in all the events so far and it looks like his hard work will pay off.”
St Benedict’s School has supported Dimitri throughout his Olympic qualification period through a number of fundraising events. Thanks to the generosity of pupils, parents, staff and other well-wishers Dimitri now has all the funds he needs to make it across the start line to Rio if he is selected.