KRUSE HEADS TO THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS WITH SHANGHAI GRAND PRIX WIN
Richard Kruse in sublime form in China
Today, Britain’s leading men’s foilist, Richard Kruse produced his best result of the season by winning the Shanghai Grand Prix. Going into the tournament ranked number 10 in the World, Kruse beat Italy’s World number 9, Alessio Foconi, 15-8 in the final.
His ranking meant that he had a bye through the qualifying rounds on Saturday but began the competition by facing Benjamin Kleibrink of Germany – an opponent that he has faced many times during his career. He showed great form to beat the German 15-9 which set him up for further victories over American, Nick Itkin (15-6), Hong Kong’s World number 7, Cheung Ka Long (15-11) and Italian, Lorenzo Nista (15-8) to make the semi-finals.
There he faced 35-year-old World number 6 Frenchman, Erwan Le Pechoux. The two had met eleven times during their long careers but Kruse went on to the match knowing that he had an 8-3 head-to-head record over his opponent. Kruse dominated the early stages of the match but the French fencer adjusted his distance and drew level. The British fencer dug in and increased his attacking intent, going on to win 15-13 – his closest match of the day.
Kruse faced Alessio Foconi of Italy in final. The Italian had already won the Turin Grand Prix during this season and was also on stunning form in an event that had seen both the reigning Olympic Champion, Daniele Garozzo (ITA) and World number 1, Alexander Massialas (USA) go out in the early stages.
The Brit completely dominated the early stages of the match, hitting his Italian opponent with a variety of shots that wowed the massive crowd. A late rally from Foconi was masterfully controlled by Kruse, who demonstrated that he still has more than enough to offer at the top level to go on and compete at a fifth Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020. He won the gold medal 15-9.
Speaking straight after winning, Kruse said that he was mugged in the city a few days before the event, adding, “The adrenaline that went through my body was unbelievable. When I came to fence here, I was ready to fight. That’s the truth but you probably don’t want to publish that!” Asked whether his heart-breaking fourth place in Rio gave him the motivation to carry on he said, “Maybe that was the best thing to happen to me. Had I got a medal (in Rio) then perhaps I wouldn’t have had the motivation to carry on.”
Chief Executive of British Fencing, Georgina Usher, added, “It’s great to see Richard building on his fourth place in Rio and our congratulations go to him and his coach. This performance was one of his best to date and shows that our athletes still have what it takes to perform and win at the highest level. Unfortunately without UK Sport funding it is going to be extremely tough for Richard and fencers like him to continue competing and training. Our recent successful crowd funding campaign will allow a team to compete at the 2017 European and World Championships but we are still seeking sponsors for our athletes and teams as we set our sights beyond this to Tokyo 2020. If you can help in any way please contact email@example.com.”
This result sees Kruse rise to number five in the World ahead of the season’s big events – the European Championships in Tbilisi and the World Championships in Leipzig.