GB take out World Number two Russia on way to a Bronze Medal
On Sunday, Great Britain’s Men’s Foil Team (Davis, Kruse, Mepstead and reserve Tofalides) fought their way to a bronze medal in the Bonn World Cup.
With twenty-one teams competing, Great Britain, ranked tenth, had a bye through the incomplete round of 32. They faced Japan in the round of 16 who also had a bye through the previous round. There were early signs of a good result as Richard Kruse led the team out to a 5-0 lead over Yuki Ota in the first fight. By the end of the third match Davis and Mepstead had built the lead up to 14-6. Great Britain went into the final three bouts 27-14 up and despite a tough 12-7 seventh leg for Kenta Chida Mepstead held the lead for the British team. Kruse and Davis finished the match making the quarterfinals with a 45-35 victory.
A repeat of last year’s European Championship bronze medal match saw Britain face the World number two team, Russia. A cagey opening period meant that the score was level at 11-each after three matches. The pace of the match increased somewhat in the fifth bout as Davis went on a 10 hit run against Alexey Khovanskiy which was followed up by a solid 5-3 match to Kruse over Alexey Cheremisinov. Mepstead started the seventh bout with Great Britain leading 30-25 but suffered camp so Tofalides came on with the score at 30-28. Despite receiving a red card he was able to hand the match back to Davis and Kruse to finish with a 35-32 lead. A 5-2 victory for Kruse over Renal Ganeev followed by a 5-3 victory for Davis over Cheremisinov saw Great Britain to victory, 45-37. Meanwhile the Ukrainian team had an equally stunning victory over the World number one team Italy, who they beat 45-42.
With two shots at a medal, Great Britain faced China in their semi-final match with Tofalides coming on for Mepstead from the start. It looked like an inspired choice by coach, Andrey Klyushin, as Tofalides started the third bout with a 10-2 deficit. A spectacular performance saw the young British fencer take a 9-4 victory over Haiwei Chen, thus closing the gap to 14-11 to the Chinese team. After six bouts China still held the lead at 25-20 which was to remain the score after the next fight. The sixteen-hit penultimate bout went in Kruse’s favour over Chen as he closed the gap to 32-29 down. Davis anchored the British team and faced Jianfei Ma. A fight of great speed and skill followed which Davis edged 15-13 but it wasn’t enough as China took the victory 45-44. Ukraine lost to Korea in the other semi-final which meant Great Britain faced them for the bronze medal.
With Mepstead restored to the starting line-up Great Britain began well and led 15-6 after the first third of the match. The effects of his quarterfinal performance appeared to be telling as Davis lost 11-5 to Klod Yunes in the fourth match. A period of non-combativity was followed by a 9-8 victory to Andrii Pogrebniak over Kruse meaning that Great Britian held a 28-26 lead going into the crucial final three bouts. Up stepped Mepstead to put in a commanding 7-4 victory over Yunes before Tofalides came on to replace Davis. His 5-2 victory over Pogrebniak not only demonstrates his own personal development but it also meant that Kruse went into the final bout with a 40-32 lead. There was nothing that Volodymyr Koltygo could do as Kruse took Britain to the bronze medal with a final match score of 45-36.
Shortly after the medal ceremony Andrey Klyushin said; “From the very beginning of the season we have worked and trained extremely hard and seriously. This attitude towards the work we do brought us this result. I’d like to highlight our team spirit as well. It’s also a key feature of our success. All athletes have been a part of our victory; both our experienced fencers – Richard Kruse, James Davis and Marcus Mepstead who have been in the team quite for a while and Alex Tofalides who had his first matches for the GB team this weekend and performed extremely well!”
“This victory is not a one-off. We beat some of the strongest teams in the world including Japan, Russia and Ukraine and only lost by one touch against China (44-45) in the semifinal on a close call at 44-44.”
“Our next tournament is in France where we will be preparing for the Asian leg of the circuit (Korea, Japan). In May, we are taking part in Havana World Cup beforethe European Championships in Strasbourg and the World Championship in Kazan.”
This bronze medal represents the best British team result in World Cup events for five years and has lifted the team to eighth in the World rankings.
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