Marcus Mepstead produces upset of the tournament on route to securing World Championships Silver
Twenty-nine year old Londoner Marcus Mepstead won the silver medal at fencing’s World Championships in Budapest today.
Mepstead lost in the final to France’s twenty-seven year old World number ten, Enzo Lefort, 15-6.
It was Britain’s second World Championship medal since Bill Hoskyns won silver in men’s epee in 1965 – Richard Kruse winning the other silver in men’s foil in 2018.
Mepstead went into the competition ranked 51st in the World, which meant fighting it out on the qualification day for a place in the round of 64. A shaky start with two victories out of five in the first round was followed by victories against Greece’s Nikolaos Kontochristopoulos 15-11 and Slovakia’s Cedrik Serri 15-10 in the knockout rounds at the Hungarian capital’s BOK Arena.
The first match of the final day of the individual event saw Mepstead up against World number one and defending champion, twenty nine year old Alessio Foconi of Italy. It was the first meeting between the two fencers at a major senior tournament.
Using excellent distance control and timing Mepstead was able to take an early lead. He shut down Foconi’s attacks, using superb defence and counter attacks to close out a solid 15-9 victory.
Next up was twenty five year old Alexander Choupenitch of the Czech Republic. Choupenitch established an early lead 7-2 but Marcus clawed his way back into the match, taking the lead for the first time at 13-12 before finishing the fight 15-13.
In the top 16 Mepstead took an early lead against Timur Arslanov of Russia. At 11-7 Mepstead needed an injury break but after the match re-started he fenced well to take a 15-9 victory.
In the quarterfinals against Michal Siess (POL) he traded hits to 5-5. Mepstead then got the measure of the taller fencer’s attacks, extending the distance and picking up a range of hits including some excellent parry ripostes on his way to securing another 15-9 victory.
The semi-final match was against Korean fencer Son Young Ki who is the World Number 37. This was the closest match of the day with both fencers giving their all as they battled for dominance. The scores were close, 7-7 at first break and 9-9 in the second period. A running attack was followed by a perfectly executed disengage lunge giving Mepstead a two hit lead. A successful video call at 11-11 reversed the referee’s original decision taking Mepstead to 12-10. As Son showed signs of fatigue Mepstead capitalised going on to win 15-12.
In the final Mepstead was up against 2019 European Bronze medallist World number ten Enzo Lefort of France. Mepstead did not make it easy for the Frenchman but Lefort found the distance for his attacks and delivered France’s first World Championship individual title in men’s foil since 1990.
Speaking after the medal ceremony Mepstead said “I fenced pretty well but I think I lost my energy by the end. I would have liked to have fenced better in the final to show off the sport a little more but I’m proud of what I have achieved. The semi-final was really tough. In fact everyone I fenced today was really good so I think I’ve done really well. Since moving to coach Dan Kellner (in Brooklyn, NYC) my preparation is a little better and my self-confidence has grown. I would like to thank him, British Fencing, The National Lottery and the Aspiration Fund. I’d also like to thank PDFA and Leon Paul for their support.”
Former British Fencing Olympian, now GBR Team Manager, Johnny Davis added “Marcus’s result shows the talent we have in our fencers. They’ve got the self-belief from the structure that we have built around them. This is the start of things to come. We all know in the camp that Marcus is a World class athlete and this is a great platform to build on for the team event.”
Coach Kellner added “I’m just so proud of Marcus. The lead up to this event wasn’t the best. Marcus got sick, cut his hand and needed stitches and then had to miss his final training sessions. After the first round, winning two of his five fights and then winning two tough bouts to make the 64, we knew he would draw World number one, Alessio Foconi. We put together a plan for that bout which Marcus executed perfectly. This result really shows what can happen when you put in a lot of hard work, prepare to the best of your ability and believe in what you’re doing and what you can accomplish.”
With congratulatory messages flooding into British Fencing CEO Georgina Usher said “In 2018, after we had waited 53 years for a World Championship medal, Richard Kruse claimed silver in Wuxi. Now we have won two World Championship medals in two seasons with two different athletes.”
“Marcus’s medal today is a testament to the fact that a competition is never over until the last point has been fought and won. His resilience and determination during the event were truly inspirational and a credit to all the hard work that he and his coach have put in. On behalf of British Fencing I would like to congratulate Marcus on this fantastic result.”
The 2019 World Championships are taking place from 15-23 July in Budapest, Hungary. Visit the official website to find out more.
Full Mens Foil Results here.
Watch a replay of the semi-finals and finals here.
Image credit #Bizziteam
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