Pierre Mainville did not have an overwhelming reaction on Wednesday when he was officially nominated as Canada’s wheelchair fencing competitor at the Rio Paralympics.
The Saint-Colomban, Que. native, who turns 43-years-old on Friday, knew he had earned a spot on the Team Canada roster for quite some time.
Mainville told ReportonRio.com on Wednesday that he experienced “nice emotions” when he heard the announcement from the Canadian Paralympic Committee and the Canadian Fencing Federation.
“For me, today is a day where I feel very proud to represent Canada at the Paralympic Games,” he said.
Brazil will be Mainville’s third Paralympic experience. He finished seventh in sabre and ninth with the epee blade in London, and ninth with the epee in Beijing.
He earned a berth in Rio by cutting and parrying his way to a gold medal in sabre at the Pan American Wheelchair Fencing Championships in San Paulo, Brazil back in May.
In addition to feeling pride on Wednesday, Mainville also feels grateful for the people in his life who have supported him in his road to Rio.
“Of course I am thinking of my family, and my master ldemaro Sanchez,” Mainville said. “This guy has helped me a lot, and he has sacrificed a lot to help me get to this point. My family has done the same. Without them, I would not have achieved what I did.”
There are high hopes for Mainville at the upcoming Games. Fencing Canada president Brad Goldie said the federation is “looking for him to build upon his London 2012 results.”
Mainville has even higher ambitions.
“I think the expectation of every athlete is to finish on the top of the podium. I am expecting to go there. The goal for me is to be the best fencer when we meet [in Brazil].”
Ukraine’s Adrian Castro and Poland’s Anton Datsko will likely be the biggest obstacles in Mainville’s path to glory in Brazil. They are the top two ranked Sabre B Category fencers in the world. Castro is rated No. 1 by the International Wheelchair & Amputee Sports Federation (IWASF) with 371 points— just one point ahead of Datsko. With 161 points, Mainville is ranked 11th in the world by IWASF.
He plans on devoting a lot of time to analyzing video in the remaining months before the Paralympics to help him formulate strategies to beat Castro, Datsko and other high-calibre duelists.
Canada’s wheelchair fencing nominee will compete in Rio from September 12 to 16.
Photo: Daniel Marcotte/Canadian Paralympic Committee