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SENIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2015 INDIVIDUAL REPORT

21st July 2015

Halsted achieves individual quarterfinal

This year’s World Championships was held over seven days in the Olympic Arena in Moscow, Russia.

Day Two

Day one of the event consisted of the preliminary rounds for the men’s and women’s sabre events.  The direct elimination for the round of 64 began on day two.

Men’s Sabre

The starting line-up consisted of one hundred and forty-four fencers including four from Great Britain.  Alex Crutchett (V4D2) and Curtis Miller (V3D2) did enough to get byes through the first fight of a two stage preliminary knockout.  James Honeybone (V2D4) and JJ Webb (V2D4) joined them by beating To (VIE) 15-8 and Firat (TUR) 15-12 respectively.  Only Crutchett progressed to the second day of the event by beating Voronov (ISR) 15 -7 as Casares (ESP) beat Honeybone 15-14, Boyko (UKR) knocked out Miller 15-13 and Van Holsbeke (BEL) defeated Webb 15-8.  Crutchett faced Occhiuzzi (ITA) on the second day of the event and despite putting up a great fight he went out 15-11.

In the first semi-final, Tiberiu Dolniceanu (ROU) took an 8-6 lead into the break against Daryl Homer (USA).  A breath-taking second period followed as the American fought back with some beautifully timed second intention parry-ripostes.  Homer went on to win 15-11.  An astonishing second semi-final between Alexey Yakimenko (RUS) and Max Hartung (GER) followed with the Russia totally dominating the first period.  He took an 8-0 lead into the break but the German fencer was extremely happy about some of the decisions.  Unable to get over this Hartung fell 15-6 in the second period.  Yakimenko continued his dominating display in the final, taking an 8-1 lead into the break.  The Russian was more relaxed and his defence was a major factor in the outcome of the fight as he went on to become the 2015 World Champion with a 15-5 victory.

GB placings: Crutchett 52nd, Miller 79th, Webb 92nd & Honeybone 94th.

Women’s Sabre

There were no British entries in a field of one hundred and eleven.  Cecilia Berder (FRA) took on Chen Shen (CHN) in the first semi-final and a series of stunning parry-ripostes meant that she led 8-6 at the break.  The French fencer was much more decisive than her opponent in the second period and controlled the fight well.  She went on to win 15-10.  Sofya Velikaya (RUS) seemed to be suffering from the enormous pressure of performing in front of her home crowd and was quickly 4-0 down against Anna Marton (HUN) in the second semi-final.  Despite this the Russian was able to find her composure and took the lead, 8-7, at the break.  With her confidence fully restored the Russian stormed to a 15-8 victory.  A mouth-watering gold medal match followed.  Velikaya looked in control of the first period before a great counter attack from Berder fired her up.  The Russian led 8-7 at the break and came out for the second period looking much stronger.  Again Berder dug deep and got herself back into the fight before Velikaya upped her game once more.  The Russian took the title 15-12.

You can watch all of these semi-final and final matches here.

Day Three

Women’s Epee

Corinna Lawrence represented Great Britain in this event and joined a field of one hundred and sixty fencers. She won two of her five first round fights to make the two-stage preliminary knockout.  She went on to beat Marclay (LTU) 15-11 before agonisingly losing 15-14 to Dmowska-Andrzejuk (POL).

Last year’s winner, Rosella Fiamingo (ITA) took on world number thirteen, Sara Besbes (TUN) in the first semi-final and the Italian’s superior control of the distance took her into a 6-3 lead at the first break.  Besbes came out better in the second period, deliberately falling short on her attacks in order to try and take Fiamingo’s blade.  The Italian spotted this change of tactics almost immediately and became much more aggressive.  She ran out a 15-10 winner fairly comfortably.  In the second semi-final, Emma Samuelsson (SWE) was the surprise opponent facing world number nine, Anqi Xu (CHN).  The Chinese fencer appeared to edge the first period but Samuelsson pressed in the closing seconds to level at 4-4 at the break.  The Swede stuck to a pressing game in the second period, giving Xu no time to think.  Samuelsson went on the make the gold medal match with a 15-12 victory.  The reigning Champion, Fiamingo was much more composed than her Swedish opponent in the final.  Samuelsson trailed 8-4 at the first break as she kept getting too close to the Italian without attacking.  Fiamingo repeated as World Champion in the second period with a 15-5 victory.

GB placing:  Lawrence 90th.

Men’s Epee

There were no British representatives in the field of one hundred and ninety-nine athletes for this event.  Geze Imre (HUN) took on Seung Hwa Jung (KOR) in the first semi-final and the Hungarian’s workmanlike approach saw him take a slender 5-3 lead into the first break.  Jung came out for the second period with a much more direct approach but Imre was ready for him.  A series of blocking and ducking counter attacks meant that his lead was 11-5 by the second break.  It was much the same in the final period with the Korean unable to adapt to Imre’s approach.  As time ran down, Jung was forced to attack and Imre won 15-8.  World number one, Gauthier Grumier (FRA) took on the World number one hundred and two, Patrick Jorgensen (DEN) in the second semi-final.  The Dane shocked everyone by taking the fight to Grumier and led 6-5 at the first break.  Jorgensen continue to press in the second period but the French fencer put in a more composed display, controlling the distance better and led 14-11 at the second break.  Grumier finished it off in the final period, 15-11.  In the gold medal match, neither Grumier nor Imre wanted to concede any ground or allow the distance to open up.  The result was a bit of a scrap in the middle of the piste.  However Imre started to open the distance up towards the end of the period, which allowed him to land a few parry ripostes.  Imre led 8-6 at the first break and both fencers came out for the second period with attacking intentions.  Imre held on to the lead before Grumier levelled at 14-14 with a brave stop-hit.  The final hit was a busy but neat attack from the Hungarian who went on to take the title, at the age of 40, 15-14.

You can watch all of these semi-final and finals matches here.

Day Four

Women’s Foil

Natalia Sheppard was Britain’s sole representative in a field of one hundred and eight in this event.  She won four of her six first round fights which was enough to earn her a place directly into the round of 64.  There she faced Lyczbinska (POL) and fell 7-6 in a very tight match.

It was a scrappy first semi-final between the World number one, Arianna Errigo (ITA) and World number five, Inna Deriglazova (RUS) with the first period ending 9-9.  It turned into a bit of a street-fight in the second period with the Russian keen not to give the Italian any time or space.  Deriglazova went on to make the gold medal match with a 15-13 victory.  The second semi-final between Aida Shanaeva (RUS) and Nzingha Prescod (USA) was an altogether different encounter.  With the American stepping into distance at speed with her blade pointing up in the air Shanaeva was able to land attack after attack on preparation.  Shanaeva made it an all-Russian final in quick time in the second period, winning 15-7.  In the gold medal match, Shanaeva made it awkward for her Russian teammate.  Changing the tempo and distance did not suit Deriglazova’s flowing style but the World number five managed to claw a few hits back at the end of the first.  Shanaeva still led 8-6 though.  Deriglazova came out for the second period, moving better and working off her preferred distance.  She levelled the fight before going on to take the World Championship title with a 15-11 victory.

GB placing:  Sheppard 47th.

Men’s Foil

There were four British fencers in this event with a total field of one hundred and fifty-four.  Davis, by virtue of his World ranking qualified for the round of 64 directly.  The other three had to fence in the preliminary rounds.  Halsted (V5D0) and Kruse (V5D1) did enough to progress directly to join Davis.  Mepstead (V4D2) earned a bye through the first of two preliminary direct elimination fights but then lost 15-14 to Cheung (HKG).  All three remaining British fencers made it through to the round of 32 as Davis beat Pranz (AUT) 15-9, Halsted defeated Llavador (ESP) 15-14 and Kruse knocked out Le Pechoux (FRA) 15-11.  Chen (CHN) ended Davis’s day with a 15-5 victory as Massialas (USA) saw off Kruse 15-11.  Halsted progressed with a comfortable 15-9 win over Y. K Son (KOR).  He then showed his best form since the London Olympic Games, beating Daraban (ROU) 15-7 with a marvellous display of attacking fencing.  In the quarterfinals he faced, Massialas (USA) and began the fight much the same as he’d finished the last.  In the second period Massialas got to grips with Halsted, slowed his attacks down and came out the winner, 15-12.

Speaking after the event Halsted said; "It was a fantastic day where everything just worked.  My thanks goes to my coach in Copenhagen, Ferenc Toth and British Fencing's Head Coach, Andrey Klyushin."

Alex Massialas went on to face Artur Akhmatkhuzin (RUS) in the first semi-final.  Both fencers came out at the start with the clear intention of going on the attack.  Massialas got the better of the Russian early on and marched to a 15-10 victory well inside the first three minutes.  It was much the same in the second semi-final between Yuki Ota (JPN) and Gerek Meinhardt (USA).  With both fencers keen to establish an early lead it was a lightening start.  Ota went 5-1 up in no time at all before Meinhardt got to within one point of his opponent.  Ota increased the already furious pace and the American could not deal with it.  Ota made it to the gold medal match with a 15-8 victory.  With both semi-finals fought at a high tempo we were promised the same for the final and the fencers did not let us down.  Ota pulled away from Massialas before the American slowed the pace down to level at 7-7.  Again the Japanese fencer increased the pace and his phenomenal hand-speed and pinpoint accuracy took him to the World title 15-10.

GB placings:  Halsted 6th, Davis 20th, Kruse 27th & Mepstead 74th.

You can watch all of these semi-final and finals matches, here.

Team report to follow.

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