Vougiouka wins in spectacular fashion
The women’s world cup series came to London this weekend where the top fencers in the world battled it out in the race for automatic Olympic qualification.
Results for the British team in the individual event were mixed. Fairhead, Hunter-Thomas, Hutchison (Jane), McMillan, Pleasant, Potter and Watson were eliminated after the first round. Bilardi (V3D3), Bond-Williams (V3D2), Hutchison (Jo) (V4D2), Kempe (V5D1), Nicoll (V4D1), Roberts (V2D4) and Willams (V4D2) all made it through to the knockout stages. Only Bilardi, Bond-Williams and Roberts had to fence in the first preliminary direct elimination losing 15-14 to Garam (HUN), 15-14 to Pasternak (POL) and 15-12 to Nakayama (JPN). The remaining British fencers all got byes to the second preliminary elimination fights where Itzkowitz lost 15-7 to Mary (FRA) but Nicoll beat Klemm (GER) 15-11, Kempe beat Ho (KOR) 15-7, Williams beat Martin (SPN) 15-11 and Hutchison beat Perez Maurice (ARG) 15-13. Hopes were high for day two of the event with four British fencers into the round of 64. Unfortunately none of them made it any further into the competition with Hutchison losing 15-14 to the eventual winner Vougiouka (GRE), Williams going down 15-13 to Chen (CHN), Nicoll falling 15-10 to Wieckowska (POL) and Kempe eliminated 15-10 by Muhammad (USA). Speaking on the British performance, Head Sabre Coach, Jon Salfield, “We lost tight matches to world class fencers. Small changes could tip the balance in our favour in the future.”
On a day where a number of the top seeds fell early on the first semi-final was between Velikaia (RUS) and Kharlan (UKR) – two fencers you would expect to see at the business end of a competition of this standard. Kharlan stormed into an 8-5 lead in no time. In the second period Velikaia clawed back to take it to 9-9 when Kharlan took a nasty fall. Fortunately she wasn’t injured badly and opened up a two hit lead but Velikaia was able to change her tactics and scraped through 15-14. The second semi-final was between Vougiouka (GRE) and Besbes (TUN). The Tunisian took a three hit lead at the beginning but Vougiouka over-turned that by the break to lead 8-6. Both fencers used the whole length of the piste in this intriguing match. Besbes fought back hard and levelled the scores at 12-12 but Vougiouka pulled away again to win 15-12.
The hot favourite for the final was Velikaia and she quickly pulled out a 7-2 lead and was in control of the fight at the break (8-4). The break worked for Vougiouka who fought back strongly mixing up her tactics to confuse the Russian and levelled the match at 12-12. She stuck to this game plan and took the title 15-13.
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