RIO DE JANEIRO (April 27) – Russia brought the Olympic fencing test event to a close in spectacular fashion on Wednesday with a solid 45-38 defeat of Hungary to clinch the gold medal in men’s team sabre.
Leading from the start, Russia took control of the match in Carioca Arena 3 as all three team members outperformed their opponents.
After the match, the Russian anchor, Nikolay Kovalev said, “I didn’t begin that well. We completed our Olympic qualification (for the individual event) three weeks ago and my nerves were shot. In the end we all fenced well enough though.”
Kovalev and Alexey Yakimenko have qualified for the individual event at the Olympic Games later this year. They were joined by 22-year-old Kamil Ibragimov who also upped his game showing the strength in depth of the Russian team.
Reigning Olympic Champion and Hungarian anchor, Aron Szilagyi said, “The Olympic venue is wonderful and it’s lovely to fence here. I’m very proud of my team. We are very happy – of course a little disappointed right now but tomorrow morning we will just be happy.”
Iran stunned the world number one team, USA, in the quarterfinal, beating them 45-41. A 45-32 loss to Hungary in the semi-finals meant they faced Romania for the bronze medal. The European team was too strong and claimed the medal with a 45-35 victory.
In the women’s foil team event on Tuesday, Russia beat reigning champions Italy 45-39 to secure revenge for last year’s defeat in Moscow and deny fencing legend Valentina Vezzali a 17th world title in her last competition before retiring.
The first part of the Olympic test event was the Rio Grand Prix in epee last week.
In the women’s event on Saturday, Russia’s Tatiana Logunova upset world No. 1 Xu Anqi 5-3 for her first title of the season.
In the men’s final, Ukraine’s Bogdan Nikishin defeated Switzerland's Benjamin Steffen 15-13 in a pulsating final.
The Rio Grand Prix is the first competition to adopt a new cross formation for the pistes, an innovation in the sport designed to provide an improved view of the action for the spectators.
Fencing fans now look forward to the final Fencing Grands Prix of the season in Moscow and Shanghai in May and June, respectively.
The European championships are the last big event before the Olympic Games and will be held in Torun, Poland on June 20-25.
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photo © Serge Timacheff