Xu and Grumier taste victory in Budapest

BUDAPEST, Hungary (March 20) - Anqi Xu of China and France’s Gauthier Grumier signaled their Olympic intent with victory at the Westend Grand Prix in Budapest on Sunday, the last chance for the world’s fencers to qualify for the Rio Games by ranking.

World No. 3 Xu beat Sarra Besbes of Tunisia, ranked just one place below her, 15-13 in a closely fought final.

Two Russians, Tatiana Logunova and Tatyana Andryushina, had to settle for sharing the bronze medal position.

As the teams from Russia and China had already qualified for the Olympic Games, meaning Xu, Logunova and Andryushina boost their chances of selection by their national federations. That would automatically give them a spot in the respective individual events in Rio.

With eight teams already qualified for the women’s team epee event in Rio, the Westend Grand Prix represented the last chance for fencers from other nations to pick up one of the seven additional ranking places available for the individual event.

Besbes was already assured qualification for the only additional Africa zonal berth but her silver medal will count towards her ranking for the Olympic Games.

Going into the event, Natalie Moellhausen of Brazil had also amassed enough ranking points to be assured of one of the two extra PanAm Olympic places. She will be joined by Leonora MacKinnon (CAN).

The fierce contests for other places were won by Man Wai Vivien Kong (HKG), Nozomi Sata (JPN) for Asia; and Rosella Fiamingo (ITA) and Emese Szasz (HUN), for Europe.

On the men’s side Grumier swept aside the world No. 2, Enrico Garozzo (ITA) 15-4. The bronze medals went to home fencer Gabor Boczko (HUN) and Youngjun Kweon (KOR).

Italy, France, Hungary and Korea had already qualified for the men’s team epee in Rio and it’s possible that all four medallists will compete at the Olympic Games later this year.

The other four teams were also confirmed to this discipline and like the women’s event, the fight was on for the additional individual zonal spots.

Alexandre Bouzaid (SEN) was confirmed as the extra African qualifier and Kazuyasu Minobe (JPN) had secured one of the two extra Asian places, going into the event.

Yunlong Jiao (CHN) picked up the remaining Asian berth, whilst Jason Pryor (USA) and Maxime Brink-Croteau (CAN) did enough to secure the PanAm places. They will be joined by Bas Verwijlen (NED) and Nikolai Novosjolov (EST) as the European zonal qualifiers.

There is one final chance for fencers to advance to Rio - via their zonal qualifier in April.

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