Kruse, Mepstead, Peggs and Tofalides struck Gold in Azerbaijan
The last event in the fencing arena at the inaugural European Games was the men’s foil team event.
With six teams competing, Great Britain (Kruse, Mepstead, Tofalides and Peggs) faced Germany in the quarterfinals. Germany is Great Britain’s main rival for the automatic European zone qualification spot for Rio and whilst this event didn’t count for world rankings it was an important match for both teams. A cracking start to the fight put Great Britain into a 15-9 lead and they did not give up eventually winning 45-26.
France were their semi-final opponents and there wasn’t much between the teams after three legs with GBR leading 15-13. A good middle period meant that Great Britain led 30-23 after six matches. The seventh and eighth legs were good ones for France to trail 40-39 going into the anchor leg. Kruse came on against Simon and a dominant display by the British fencer meant that Great Britain won the match 45-41.
The Italians of Alessio Foconi, Lorenzo Nista, Damiano Rosatelli and Francesco Ingargiola were Great Britain’s gold medal match opponents. Great Britain raced out of the blocks and into a 14-8 lead after three matches. The middle three legs proved a better time for the Italians and they had closed to within two hits, trailing 26-24 after six legs. Ingargiola came off the bench for the seventh leg and put the Italians into the lead, 35-33, for the first time in the match. Mepstead came on for the penultimate legs against Nista adopting a patient yet aggressive approach. It worked perfectly as Britain led 40-38 going into the final leg. Kruse came on for Great Britain against Foconi of Italy for the last match. It was clear from the start that the British fencer was not going to let the gold slip away. Kruse imposed his game on the final leg and there was nothing that the Italian could do. He raised he hands to the sky as he scored the winning hit for the Great Britain team, 45-41.
Speaking shortly after the win, Alex Tofalides said; “It was a very tough match against one of the best nations in the world but we fenced really well as a team and when we needed each other we fought for each other. Thankfully Richard was able to finish it off at the end so it was a really good team performance.”
British Fencing’s Performance Director added; “It was a really great overall team performance. Having been disappointed with their individual results, they regrouped to ensure they were ready and prepared to win the gold medal in the team event. I am delighted for them and their coach Andrey Klyushin, as they made a bit of history in winning the inaugural European Games.”
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