Great Britain wheelchair fencing trio take epee team bronze in Tokyo

Great Britain’s wheelchair fencers won a first epee team medal since 1980 after increasing their Tokyo Paralympics tally to three with bronze in the men’s event.

Piers Gilliver and Dimitri Coutya, who claimed individual epee gold and bronze in their respective categories on Thursday, combined with Oliver Lam-Watson to clinch a historic podium place with a 45-38 victory over Ukraine.

The trio’s endeavours included a convincing 45-29 triumph over Rio 2016 champions France in the pool stage before defeat to eventual champions the Russian Paralympic Committee denied them a shot at gold.

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Games debutant Paralympic debutant Lam-Watson said: “It is lovely to compete with my two best friends – to get such a great result with the guys is phenomenal.”

In table tennis, defending class seven champion Will Bayley was among four players to reach semi-finals and guarantee themselves at least a bronze medal.

Tom Matthews (class one), Jack Hunter-Spivey (class five) and Paul Karabardak (class six) also made the last four in their respective singles events.

Meanwhile, Aaron McKibbin, Billy Shilton and Ross Wilson each won their last-16 matches in the men’s class eight.

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Bayley, who suffered a serious knee injury as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing in 2019, said: “I live for these moments. That’s five Paralympic medals and I never would have dreamed of getting five.

“This one means as much if not more than any of the others because of the injury and everything that has happened these last few years so it’s good to be back winning medals.”

At Sea Forest Waterway, Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley made a strong start to their rowing title defence after being quickest in qualifying for the mixed double sculls.

The reigning world, European and Paralympic champions progressed automatically to Sunday’s A final by finishing seven seconds clear of Ukraine in the heats in a time of 8:42:27.

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Rowles said: “GB fans can expect absolute excellence as we always produce.

“We are here to defend that title, we are champions coming to this, we hold the triple crown and that’s what we are here to defend.”

In the PR3 mixed coxed four, the ParalympicsGB boat dominated the field to enter Sunday’s final as the fastest qualifiers, while Games debutant Benjamin Pritchard finished second in his heat of the PR1 men’s single sculls to reach Saturday’s repechage.

Just one win now separates Andy Lapthorne and Antony Cotterill from a shot at Paralympic gold after they made the perfect start in the wheelchair tennis quad doubles.

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Lapthorne, a three-time Paralympic medallist, and Cotterill cruised through their opening match, beating South Korean pair Kim Kyu-Seung and Kim Myung Je 6-2 6-0 on a day when action was temporarily halted due to high temperatures.

Elsewhere on Friday, archer Jessica Stretton set a new Paralympic record to finish first in the women’s individual compound open ranking round.

The 21-year-old, who won gold at Rio in 2016, hit 48 tens and 25 Xs to record a score of 694, progresses directly to Monday’s last 16.

Great Britain suffered an agonising 50-48 defeat to the United States in their final pool game of wheelchair rugby having led at the end of each of the opening three quarters.

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Both teams were already guaranteed a place in the semi-finals, with the USA now going through as group winners. JGB face hosts Japan in the last four.

Gaz Choudhry top scored for the men’s wheelchair basketball team for the second successive game but his 14 points could not prevent a 71-59 defeat to Germany.

The women’s team now face a must-win game against Australia on Friday after their 53-35 loss to Germany left quarter-final hopes hanging by a thread.