​Delight for Egorian and Dershwitz as Olympic qualification journey nears end

SEOUL, South Korea (March 26) – Yana Egorian of Russia and Eli Dershwitz of the United States completed the Olympic qualifying period with Grand Prix wins in Seoul on Saturday.

World No. 5 Egorian beat local favorite Seo Jiyeon, ranked 36 in the World, 15-10 in the final of the SK Telecom Grand Prix at the SK Handball Gym, the fencing venue for the 1988 Olympics.

Vassiliki Vougiouka of Greece and Russia’s world No. 1, Sofya Velikaya, had to settle for sharing the bronze medal position.

The teams from Russia and South Korea had already qualified for the Olympic Games, so the results for Egorian, Velikaya and Seo will increase their chance of selection by their national federations.

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

Tunisia’s Azza Besbes was already assured qualification for the only additional Africa zonal berth, and China’s Chen Shen had also confirmed one of the additional Asian places. Results in Korea mean that Shen will be joined by Chika Aoki (JPN) as the Asian zonal qualifiers.

Vougiouka’s third-place finish was more than enough to guarantee her one of the European places. By finishing in the top eight in Seoul, Hungary’s Anna Marton secured the other zonal spot for Europe. Maria Perez Maurice (ARG) and Alejandra Benitez Romero will line up as the qualifiers from the Americas in Rio.

With no men’s sabre team event at this year’s Olympics, results in Korea had a huge bearing on individual qualification.

Eight fencers went into the event knowing that they had already completed the job of qualifying: Alexey Yakimenko (RUS), Tiberiu Dolniceanu (ROU), Aron Szilagyi (HUN), Max Hartung (GER), Aldo Montano (ITA), Daryl Homer (USA), and two Koreans in Bongil Gu and Junghwan Kim.

The 2015 junior world champion, Dershwitz continued to impress by winning the tournament. The 20 year old beat first-time medalist Mojtaba Abedini (IRI) 15-9 as the bronze medals went to Diego Occhiuzzi (ITA) and Nikolay Kovalev (RUS). The results mean that all four have now qualified for the Olympics after season-long battles with their own team mates.

These 12 fencers will joined by Matyas Szabo (GER) and Aliaksandr Buikevich (BLR) as the world’s top 14 athletes to qualify by ranking.

There are also two additional places for each zone and these were picked up by Vincent Anstett (FRA) and Tamas Desci (HUN) for Europe; Renzo Agresta (BRA) and Joseph Polossifakis (CAN) for the Americas; Ali Pakdaman (IRI) and Wei Sun (CHN) for Asia; and Mohamed Amer (EGY) and Yemi Apithy (BEN) for Africa.

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

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