Joy for Errigo as foilists end Olympic qualification race

HAVANA, Cuba (March 13) – Arianna Errigo underlined her status as a gold medal favourite for the Rio Olympics this weekend by winning the Fencing Grand Prix in Cuba, the final qualification event for the women’s foil.

Going into the competition, the Italian had already ensured a place in Brazil along with world No. 1 Inna Deriglazova of Russia, compatriot Elisa Di Francisca, Ysoara Thibus of France and Tunisia’s Innes Boubakri.

That didn’t deter Errigo, who stormed to victory with a 15-10 win over Lee Kiefer of the United States after dispatching Hyunhee Nam (KOR) 15-4 in a one-sided semifinal.

Kiefer, in turn, had beaten Diana Yakovleva (RUS) 15-14 in her semifinal but the Russian was too far behind team mates Deriglazova and Aida Shanaeva to be a threat. She did play a part in the Russian qualification story, however: By beating Larissa Korobeynikova in the round of 16 she prevented Korobeynikova from catching Shanaeva on points.

Kiefer’s result confirmed her Olympic qualification and she beat teammate Nicole Ross on her way to the silver medal. That result meant Ross failed in her attempt to catch a third American, Nzingha Prescod to an Olympic spot.

Nam’s medal-winning performance means that she will join her teammate Hee Sook Jeon in Rio, while a top-eight finish for Astrid Guyart ensures a full quota of French fencers in the women’s foil individual discipline.

Aida Mohamed (HUN), Huilin Le (CHN) and Carolin Golubytskyi (GER) join Boubakri and the pairings from Italy, Russia, France, Korea and the United States in automatic qualification.

They, in turn, are joined by the next-highest ranked fencers from each zone, namely: Africa’s Noura Mohamed (EGY) and Anissa Khelfaoui (ALG); Asia’s Youngshi Liu (CHN) and Mona Shaito (LIB); Edina Knapek (HUN) and Hanna Lyczbinska (POL); and PanAm’s, Eleanor Harvey (CAN) and Saskia Van Erven Garcia (COL).

There is one final chance for women’s foilists to qualify for this year’s Olympic Games via their zonal qualifier. Countries with no representatives in this discipline will be able to send one fencer to compete in those special zonal events.

Photo © Serge Timacheff

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