Olympic preview: Top fencers ready to do battle in Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO (August 4) - Fencer Arianna ERRIGO (ITA) is aiming to underline her status as world No. 1 as she looks to go one better than her silver medal at London 2012 Olympic Games when she competes at Rio 2016.

Errigo was beaten by fellow Italian Elisa DI FRANCISCA (ITA) at London 2012 in the individual foil final but, as European champion and winner of both Grands Prix in 2016, she is the overwhelming favourite to turn silver into gold.

Italian fencers top the all-time medal standings with 121 in a sport that is only one of five to have featured on the programme since the first Games in Athens in 1896.

World No. 3 Mariel ZAGUNIS (USA) is going for her third Olympic title in the women's sabre and looking to consign to history her disappointing fourth place at London 2012 following gold medals at Beijing 2008 and Athens 2004.

The experienced sabreur from USA could battle it out again with the two-time world champion Olga KHARLAN (UKR) who defeated ZAGUNIS four years ago in the bronze medal bout, and world champion Sofya VELIKAYA (RUS).

KHARLAN could land a second gold in the women's sabre team after taking the title at Beijing 2008.

World No. 1 Alexander MASSIALAS (USA) is favourite in the men's foil, two months after winning the Grand Prix in Shanghai.

In the men's foil team event, MASSIALAS will be part of the USA squad that will attempt to improve on London 2012, where they were beaten in the bronze medal match while the ever-strong Italy team are looking good to repeat their success of four years ago.

Winner of three world cups this year, epeeist Gauthier GRUMIER (FRA) could find redemption after his 18th place at London 2012. World No. 1 GRUMIER will also lead the charge for France in the men's epee team event.

In the men's sabre there are no strong favourites but Alexey YAKIMENKO (RUS) is world No.1 and world champion, while world runner-up KIM Yunghwan (KOR) has been a consistent top-10 finisher all year and Rio could be his moment.

A total of 213 athletes from 47 countries will compete in 10 events (three individual and two team events for both genders) from August 6 to 14 at the Carioca Arena 3 in fencing, one of only five sports to have been included in the Olympic programme at Athens 1896 and featured at every Games since then.

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