Pyramids set backdrop to Kruse’s fifth Olympic Qualifying Campaign
This weekend, thirty-four year old Londoner, Richard Kruse, began the new men’s foil (fencing) season in Cairo in stunning fashion, by beating Italian, Alessio Foconi 15-5 in the gold medal match to claim the Cairo World Cup title.
The British fencer headed into the new season ranked sixth in the World. This meant that he avoided competing in the qualification rounds. He beat teammate Keith Cook, 15-12 in the first round – his closest match of the tournament – and then German, Andre Sanita, 15-7 in the second. His third opponent was Russia’s 2014 World Champion, Alexey Cherimisinov, who Kruse has a good record against (4-2 lead in head-to-head). Consistent with form, Kruse went on to beat him 15-9. That victory meant a match-up against long-standing adversary and 2011 World Champion, Andrea Cassara of Italy. Kruse won 15-10 to confirm his place in the semi-finals and at least a bronze medal.
Cheung Ka Long was his opponent in the top four. The fencer from Hong Kong had surprised America’s World number one, Alex Massialas, in the previous round, beating him 15-13 in a fascinating fight. Using his patience and experience, Kruse made light work of Cheung, closing out the fight 15-7 in the second period to set up a fight with Foconi for the first title of the season.
The final was a repeat of last year’s Shanghai Grand Prix final, where Kruse had dominated. Much the same followed here in Cairo. The Great Pyramids of Giza were the stunning backdrop for the outside arena set up especially for this final. Kruse rose to the occasion again. He controlled the first period with a mixture of his trademark counter-attacks and spectacularly sharp attacks, taking a strong 10-3 lead into the first break. In the second period, Kruse controlled the pace luring Foconi into attacking him. Relying on his defence he saw out the fight out with two superb parry ripostes, claiming the first crown of the season, 15-5.
His coach, Ziemek Wojciechowski added, “Richard gave a phenomenal performance today, confirming that he is still World class. The recent loss of U.K. Sport funding for fencing means that Richard is 100% reliant on sponsorship to give him the best chance to qualify for Tokyo 2020. If you are interested in supporting him in anyway, however modest, please contact [email protected].”
This result means that Richard climbs to number 4 in the World rankings and he will next compete at the Tokyo World Cup in November.
Sign up to receive regular highlights from the exciting world of fencing - celebrating the best of our unique and inspiring community