Tokyo, Japan, July 30, 2021—On the seventh day of competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, nine men’s epee teams have completed quarterfinals and placement rounds through the semifinals. This evening, ROC faces Japan for the gold medal, with Korea and China fencing for bronze.
In the table of 16, Japan defeated USA, 45-39, to advance into the quarterfinals where they beat France in a close match, 45-44. In the semifinal rounds, Japan beat Korea, 45-38, and ROC defeated China, 45-38. For the fifth through eighth placement positions, France—the three-time defending Olympic champions—took fifth place over Ukraine, 45-39, while Italy beat Switzerland, 36-34.
“The Olympics are special to me”, said Japan’s Kazuyasu Minobe. “We have to work together as a team to win the game, which we did. For tonight with the Russian team, we’ve been watching them as a team and individually to be ready. We are very pleased to make the finals and it has been an incredible day for each of us, our team and Japan overall.”
“Basically, the Japanese team took on a huge lead at the beginning of the semifinals”, said Korean Olympic champion Sangyoung Park. “It was such a big difference that instead of trying to get four or five points at a time, we focused and worked to get a few points in each round to catch up and even the score. We felt that would give us a better chance of making up the difference and then having a chance to win.”
“Today was not what we expected”, said Switzerland’s Michele Niggeler. “We really tried to prepare against Korea in the quarters but in the end something went wrong. Perhaps we should have changed our strategy but we had confidence, but now we can say we were wrong. Tokyo 2020 was my first time at the Olympics, and while I didn’t fence how I wanted to and didn’t get a medal, as my first time I’m very proud of my team, myself and of all the people here, who have been really great.”
“We have had a long year of preparation for the Olympics”, said Ukraine’s Anatolii Herey. “We came here after working hard, and although we only had sixth place today, I want to thank my teammates, coaches and everyone at Tokyo 2020 because they’ve been amazing, including the organization in the village and the phenomenal competition management.”
“I must say it’s been a little odd fencing here in Japan with all the rules and difference because of the pandemic”, said French world champion Yannick Borel. “We’ve only had one event in 18 months and while we tried to prepare individually and as a team as much as possible, it wasn’t enough. Only work can make us stronger, and all of us are going to work individually and together to build a really competitive team. Now we set our sights on Paris 2024 with new athletes, new coaching and new events. For each year there is one title and everyone fights for it. You have to be in the moment, and I didn’t make it this year but I will come back stronger.”