5th March 2013
Davis takes out top seeds on his way to first senior medal
James Davis continued his rich vein of form by taking the Grand Prix title in St. Petersburg today making him the first British Grand Prix winner since 2009.
The event didn’t start well for him as he only won three of his six first round matches resulting him being ranked just 53rd. This low ranking meant that he met the French World number 16, Victor Sintes in the round of 64. It seemed that the overnight break between the first round and knockout stage worked well for Davis as he stormed through his opponent 15-5. He then made light work of Jun Heo (KOR) taking him out in the next round 15-9. A far tougher prospect was to come in the form of Giorgio Avola (ITA) in the round of 16. The multi-medal winning World number 9 was the clear favourite for this fight but Davis was too strong and beat the Italian 15-12. A much tougher fight followed against Braun (GER) who had a fairly easy draw to get to the round of 8. Davis won 9-8 in the priority minute to guarantee at least a bronze medal.
In the semi-final Davis faced Akhmatkhuzin (RUS). In the first period the two traded hits early on but Davis opened up a 6-4 lead going into the first break with a well-timed riposte and a sharp beat attack. In the second period the Russian attempted to up the pace but Davis kept his composure and started to open up the lead with some well executed counter-ripostes (defensive moves). As his confidence grew so did his aggression and he took the fight, 15-8, with two beautiful attacks. In the other semi-final Aspromonte (ITA) took on Massialas (USA) and the two went at each other from the start. They traded hits up to 6-6 but then Massialas pulled away eventually winning 15-10 in a little over 2mins.
In the final Davis stormed to a 3-0 lead over Massialas (USA) but the American pegged him back and started to take control. Massialas seemed keen to keep the pressure on Davis and was relentless on the attack, opening up an 11-8 lead. Davis managed to level things up at 12-12 but Massialas scored two single lights to take it to 14-12. Davis thought he’d scored a clean single light only to see the American’s off target light come on. It turned out that the earthing wire for the piste had come loose and Massialas had hit it bringing up the white light. A video referral was called but was inconclusive so the score remained 14-12. Davis showed incredible composure to pick off his opponent with three parry ripostes in a row to take the Grand Prix title 15-14.
Richard Kruse also made the top eight of the event finishing a creditable sixth having been beaten by Valerio Aspromonte (ITA) 15-10 in the quarterfinals.
Speaking straight after the event Davis said; “I’m thrilled to win my first senior medal. It was a fantastic experience and I can’t wait for the next event. Thank you to my coach, Ziemek, for all his work and all the rest of the support team. None of this would have been possible without the support I get from British Fencing, UK Sport and Beazley. My parents have also supported me from the start. I could never have got this far without their backing.”
The men’s foil moves on to another Grand Prix in Venice, Italy in two weeks time, where Davis will be the highest ranked British fencer present with a provisional world ranking of 13. As such he will have a bye straight to the round of 64 on the second day of the event.