Men’s team foil: Britain’s Kruse claims second GP gold in Havana

HAVANA, Cuba (March 13) - Britain’s Richard Kruse claimed his first Grand Prix gold medal since 2009 on Sunday with a 15-5 victory over Alaaeldin Abouelkassem of Egypt.

It was the last men’s foil competition of the season that will be taken into account for Olympic qualification.

On his way to gold, the 32-year-old Brit battled past world No. 1 Alex Massialas 15-14, but had less trouble defeating Abouelkassem in the gold medal match. Abouelkassem, for his part, won his first major medal since silver at the London Olympic Games in 2012.

“I’m really pleased to win my second one,” said Kruse, fresh off the piste. “This is really going to boost my ranking now so I’m really pleased,” added Kruse, who last triumphed in Venice five years ago.

Britain and Egypt had already qualified teams for the Rio Games and it is now very likely that both finalists will be selected by their countries for the individual Olympic events.

Race Imboden (USA) and Jean-Paul Tony Helissey (FRA) shared the bronze medals in Cuba, and with both the Americans and the French also qualified by team ranking, their results will be taken into account by their national federations when it comes to selecting who flies to Brazil.

With eight teams already qualified for the men’s team foil event in Rio, this event represented the last chance for individuals from other nations to pick up one of the seven additional ranking places available for the individual event.

Yuki Ota (JPN) was already assured qualification for the top Asia zonal berth and did not compete. Heo Jun (KOR) secured the second place.

They will be joined in the individual event at the Olympics by Peter Joppich (GER) and Alexander Choupenitch (CZE) who secured the additional European places; Maximilien Van Haaster (CAN) and Daniel Gomez (MEX), who picked up the two Pan-American places; and Mohammed Ferjani (TUN) who secure the single additional African place. There is one final chance for fencers to advance to Rio - via their zonal qualifier in April.

photo © Serge Timacheff

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