OTTAWA – Four wheelchair fencers are preparing to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, with Matthieu Hébert (Beauharnois, QC), Pierre Mainville (St-Colomban, QC), Ruth Sylvie Morel (Pincourt, QC), and Ryan Rousell (Saskatoon, SK) selected to represent Canada this summer, the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) and Fencing Canada announced today.
This is the largest team of wheelchair fencers Canada has sent to a Paralympic Games since Canada made its debut in the sport in 2000.
The country has enjoyed some of its greatest wheelchair fencing successes in recent years, with Mainville and Rousell becoming the first Canadians to capture gold at a World Cup competition, which they both achieved at the same event in Montreal in 2018. Mainville won the men’s sabre B category event while Roussel was the men’s sabre A champion.
Mainville, who currently holds Canada’s highest world ranking in wheelchair fencing – No. 12 in men’s B sabre – will be competing in his fourth consecutive Paralympic Games (2008, 2012, 2016). He reached the quarterfinals at Rio 2016 and has two Top 10 finishes from London 2012.
“I’m very happy to be selected for the Tokyo Games at what will be my last Paralympic Games,” said Mainville, whose Tokyo events will be the men’s B classification epee and sabre. “It will be a very different experience from my previous Games, and I’m disappointed my family cannot be with me this time in Tokyo, but I so appreciate their support as well as my coaches, physical trainers, osteopath, and medical team.”
Morel was the first Canadian to compete in wheelchair fencing at the Games back in 2000. She also competed at London 2012 and will be making her third Paralympic Games appearance in Tokyo.
“I consider myself extremely lucky to have made the Tokyo Paralympics,” said Morel, who will see action in the women’s A category foil and sabre events. “This will be my third Games, and my goal is not to be better than anyone else, but to be better than I used to be. This objective no doubt will surprise a few of my fellow fencers … one can only hope!”
Both Hébert and Rousell compete in the men’s A category and will represent Canada in the sabre event, where Hébert is currently the world’s No. 14-ranked player with Rousell at No. 15. Hébert will also be en garde in the foil event, while Rousell will suit up in the epee.
“I am delighted to be selected to compete at the Tokyo Paralympics,” said Hébert, who earned a 10th-place finish at his first Paralympic Games in 2016. “This is the culmination of now five years of training, effort, and focus. I am optimistic about my performance at these Games and wish for a safe Games for the people of Japan, athletes, and coaches.”
At age 24, Rousell is the youngest member of the team by over two decades. Tokyo will be his Paralympic debut.
“I am very excited and proud to finally be going to Tokyo!” said Rousell. “This is my first Paralympic Games, and I am looking forward to experiencing Team Canada. Thank you to my family and coaches who helped me get to this moment.”
Wheelchair fencing competition will take place from August 25 to 29 in Tokyo.
“I am extremely proud of the athletes who have had wonderful success in their qualification campaign for the Tokyo Paralympic Games – four fencers were engaged in the process from the start and four have qualified for Tokyo!” said Benjamin Manano, high performance director, Fencing Canada. “Wheelchair fencing has developed enormously over the past several years with the arrival of new emerging countries in the sport, and so this performance is exceptional for us. The qualification of four athletes demonstrates the quality of work carried out for several years with our high-performance team. We now look forward to the Games, where the goal will be to improve individual performances.”
“I am so thrilled to welcome Matthieu, Pierre, Sylvie, and Ryan to the Canadian team!" said Stephanie Dixon, chef de mission, Tokyo 2020 Canadian Paralympic Team. "This team is a great combination of athletes at different parts of their Paralympic journey – from their first to their fourth Games – and it is so exciting to see the growth of wheelchair fencing across Canada! I wish them each the best of luck in Tokyo and will support them all the way.”
TOKYO 2020 PARALYMPIC GAMES WHEELCHAIR FENCING TEAM:
The postponed Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will take place August 24 to September 5, 2021 in Japan. Canada is expecting to send a team of approximately 130 athletes, and audiences across the country will be able to follow all the action live through coverage from the Canadian Paralympic Media Consortium, including broadcast partners CBC/Radio-Canada, AMI, and Sportsnet, and digital partners Twitter, Facebook, and MXZN.
CLICK HERE to see the complete list of athletes currently named to the Canadian Paralympic Team. The Canadian Paralympic Committee will announce the official full team heading to the Games later this summer.