Italian city Pisa is set to host an International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation Wheelchair Fencing World Cup this week, offering a chance for athletes to gain qualification points for next year's Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
The four-day event, due to begin tomorrow, is the latest stop on the road to September’s World Championships in Cheongju in South Korea.
The presence of Italy’s top fencers at their home event will be strongly felt with a team that includes Paralympic, world and European champions.
Few are more prolific than Beatrice Vio, holder of every possible title and top-ranked fencer in the women’s foil category B.
The 22-year-old experienced a temporary blip in December 2018 when she finished second to Russia’s Ludmila Vasileva at the World Cup in Japanese city Kyoto.
She bounced back to triumph at the opening World Cup of 2019, held last month in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
Hungary’s Zsuzsanna Krajnyák is the world champion and world number one in the women’s épée category A but will be looking to improve her form in the weapon.
The 40-year-old has not won at a World Cup since 2014, despite several podium finishes.
Her current good form lies in the foil, in which she is the holder of two world titles.
Krajnyák picked up a gold medal at the World Cup in Sharjah, where she beat Paralympic champion Jing Rong of China.
The pair could face each other again in Pisa.
The strength of the host team will also be on display in the men’s competition.
Alessio Sarri is the world champion in the sabre category B and reached the top of two World Cup podiums in 2018.
He faltered slightly in Sharjah, losing out on the gold medal to Grzegorz Pluta, but will be back on the piste to challenge the Polish athlete once again.
In the men’s épée category A, Paralympic and world silver medallist Piers Gilliver of Great Britain is aiming to break a personal record.
"For the Rio 2016 qualification period, I won gold in the first three qualification events, so now I'm keen to go one better and make Pisa my fourth consecutive gold in the Tokyo 2020 cycle," he said.
"The World Championships are the big goal for me this season - it's the most prestigious event of the year and important for Tokyo qualification.
"For the season as a whole, I have the goals of dominating the podium in épée, winning as many gold medals as I can.
"I'm also keen to improve in sabre.
"I've only been training in this for a couple of years and so I’m keen to keep progressing and increasing my sabre podium appearances."
Challenging Gilliver in the sabre will be Greece’s Vasileios Ntounis, who will be hoping for a repeat of his performance in Sharjah where he won his first World Cup gold.
Also lining up will be world champion Maxim Shaburov of Russia and Ukraine’s Andrei Demchuk, the Paralympic and European title holder.