Tokyo 2020: Superb silver in team foil means University of Bath-based wheelchair fencers are bringing home nine medals between them from Paralympic Games
Today’s result means that Dimitri Coutya, Piers Gilliver and Oliver Lam-Watson, who are coached by Peter Rome, will be bringing home a magnificent nine medals between them from six events.
Their brilliant form in the team foil event was inspired by an incredible fightback in their opening pool fixture against the Russian Paralympic Committee that saw Gilliver save four match points before securing a 45-44 victory.
They went on to beat Ukraine 45-21 and Italy 45-37 before, following a delay for technical problems, overcoming France 45-23 in the semi-finals.
The final against top seeds China proved to be a close-fought affair with the lead changing hands several times before the GB side were eventually edged out 45-38.
Coutya said: “This medal is a real testament to how far we have progressed as a team and what huge contenders we are.
“We have huge respect for the China team, they are so sharp and hard working, so for us to come away with a result like this and to push them so close shows that we have come such a long way and that we are well within their reach.
“I am so delighted and proud of this team and what we have achieved today. We went into that match and gave it absolutely everything and we got the result that we deserved.”
Gilliver added: “Today means such a lot. Coming into the Games after all the challenges of the last year we never dreamed we would get to the final, never mind coming so close to the gold medal team. I am so proud of how we all performed; we really give it 100 per cent.”
It was a second team medal of the week for the Brits, following their epee bronze on Friday. Gilliver was also crowned as Paralympic Champion in the Category A epee, while Coutya bagged individual bronze in both the Category B epee and foil.
The trio are all members of the EIS World-Class Wheelchair Fencing Programme which has been based at the Team Bath Sports Training Village since 2015 and continues to go from strength to strength, with the latest crop of medals adding to the epee silver won by Gilliver at Rio 2016 and the four World Championships titles claimed by Coutya and Gilliver.
Rome’s work with the squad earned him the accolade of High Performance Coach of the Year at the 2020 UK Coaching Awards.
Lam-Watson said: “We are so fortunate that the hard work we put in, our tough training has paid off. We didn’t come into this event with any expectations. We just wanted to give it our best and leave everything out there on the piste and I think we have really done that.
“I could not be more proud. We have performed really well and we are a new team so the only way is up and there are only three years until Paris!”
She led off a GB quartet that also featured Zara Mullooly, Grace Harvey and Toni Shaw. They touched the wall in fourth after a strong swim but, like the United States who originally won gold, were unfortunately disqualified for a takeover infringement.
University of Bath Hall of Fame for Sport inductee Millward will be back in action on Monday when she competes in the S9 100m backstroke.
Sadly fellow GB swimmer Suzanna Hext, who does her strength and conditioning training at the University of Bath, has had to pull out of her remaining Paralympics events on medical advice after suffering three asthma attacks during the Games.
The first came just after she had finished fourth in the S5 200m freestyle but incredibly she was able to return to the pool the following day and went within six-hundredths of a second of a 100m freestyle medal.