The last day of the 2015 Shanghai Foil Grand Prix features the top 64 men’s fencers, all the way to the gold medal match. Rounds up to the semi-finals take place in the Jing ‘An tennis and gym center, only a few blocks from the chic Westgate Mall where the final matches occur. Today’s men’s event is more geographically rounded than the previous day’s women’s event, with top-level competitors reaching the top-16 bracket from Korea, France, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Russia, Japan, China, Italy, USA. Russia has the strongest showing, qualifying four fencers – 25 percent – of the 16.
While several of the fencers are familiar faces ranging back as far as the Athens 2004 Olympics, such as Italy’s Cassara and Russia Ganeev, China and Japan are making a strong showing as well as the USA. This diversity makes for a wide variety of foil styles and strengths, ranging from extremely athletic and active “big action” fencers such as Cassara and the USA’s Miles Chamley-Watson (world champion in Budapest 2013) to the more precision-like technicians of foil such as France’s Jeremy Cadot and Korea’s Young Ho Kwon. France’s Erwan Le Pechoux has had success in Shanghai winning this event in past years, and this year’s lineup, with a very aggressive group of athletes hungry for Olympic qualification, will present a very tough challenge.
Coming out of the 16, Chamley-Watson narrowly defeated Japanese Olympic ambassador and Olympian Yuki Ota to now face Olympic medalist Cassara. Ganeev is facing a quarter-final battle with Le Pechoux, and Kwon will meet Czech Choupenitch on the piste and Russia’s Zherebchenko faces Italy’s Avola. A very healthy and powerful mix of highly accomplished athletes, each of whom is capable of taking home gold.