Poland’s Kinga Drozdz is looking to build on a breakout season in the first IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Cup of the new year in Eger, Hungary, from 13 February.
She claimed her first two World Cup wins in Pisa, Italy, and Amsterdam, Netherlands, both in the sabre in 2019.
Those results have given her confidence that she can perform at the highest level, although she is focusing more on improving her style at Eger, which is a qualifying event for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
“I would like to show my skills at my best. Winning medals is great but the most important thing is to be satisfied with your work. I don't like 'ugly' fencing. I am a perfectionist so my goal for the World Cup in Eger is to show my best side,” Drozdz said.
Unsurprisingly, with the next Paralympic Games taking place in August, Drozdz is expecting a strong competition at a location where she has never competed before and claimed: “There is a strong team from Hungary who will fence for their audience but also Ukraine and China are very strong.”
The 25-year-old, who competes in the individual sabre as well as the team sabre and epee, only took part in her maiden World Cup event in Warsaw, Poland, in 2018.
However, Drozdz gained more attention when she won her first major medal, a silver, at the 2019 World Championships in the sabre. Drozdz rates this as her "biggest achievement of the season."
Claiming the podium was all the more special due to the struggle she faced coming to terms with her disability and starting in fencing.
“I was told to go for wheelchair fencing for a few years due to limb hypogenesis hypoplasia and hip dysplasia. But as an aviation student and airport employee, I didn't have time.”
Despite this, in February 2018 she began her wheelchair fencing journey and believes it has had a massive impact on her life: “Integration with disabled people makes me a better person. A few years ago I could hardly accept myself. This sport gives me the opportunity to overcome my own weaknesses.”
Drozdz is aware of how her initial years on the circuit have helped her and how important Eger is: “A good result will definitely give me confidence and courage. This is a valuable experience that I have been collecting for two years. 2019 was a special year for me, I would like 2020 to be even better!”
She knows that positive results in Eger and the Warsaw leg of the World Cup are important when it comes to preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“The Paralympic Games are the dream of every athlete. Every day I try to do everything to make my dream come true. This is a unique competition.”
The 2020 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Cup in Eger will take place from 13-16 February, and results are available on IWAS's website.