This year’s European Championships in Montreux, Switzerland were held over seven days.
The European Championships 2015 began with the Men’s Foil individual event as seventy-two fencers took to the piste. James Davis (V3D3), Laurence Halsted (V3D3), Richard Kruse (V4D1) and Marcus Mepstead (V4D2) all progressed through the first round. In the round of 64 Bachmann (GER) beat Halsted 12-11 in a priority minute and Chaliankov (BLR) knocked out Mepstead 15-7 but Davis beat Szabados (HUN) 15-12 and Kruse defeated Kawiecki (POL) 15-9. In the round of 32 Davis took out the world number one, Cheremisinov (RUS) 15-12 and Kruse put in an amazing counter-attacking display to beat Joppich (GER) 15-5. Both remaining British fencers made the quarterfinals as Davis beat Macedo (POR) 15-6 and Kruse knocked out Ganeev (RUS) 15-11. Neither could go on to claim a medal as Davis was beaten 15-8 by Garozzo (ITA) and Llavador (ESP) beat Kruse 15-10.
In the first semi-final, Andrea Cassara (ITA) ended Carlos Llavador’s fine day, beating him 15-10. In the second Daniele Garozzo made light work teammate Edoardo Luperi, winning 15-6. The final between the two Italians was over in a flash. Initially, Cassara pulled away from Garozzo to lead 9-5 and seemed to be cruising to his fourth individual title. Garozzo fought back though and stole a 10-9 lead before Cassara found the right distance for his attacks. He went on to take the title 15-11.
GB placings: Kruse 6th, Davis 9th, Mepstead 34th & Halsted 43rd.
The second event of the championships was the Women’s Epee individual event where seventy-seven fencers, including Corinna Lawrence fought to become the European Champion 2015.
Lawrence finished the first round with two victories from six fights, which was not enough to make the first round cut. Rosella Fiamingo (ITA) put in a dominant display in the first semi-final beating Simon Pop (ROM) 15-9. Despite trailing early on in the second semi-final, Violetta Kolobova (RUS) went on to beat the world number one, Emese Szasz (HUN) 15-10. In the final Kolobova did not start well, trailing 3-0 but she opened the distance half way through the first period and dominated the rest of the fight. She went on to take the title with a 15-12 victory.
GB Individual placings: Lawrence 60th.
Day two of the tournament began with the individual Women’s Sabre event. There were no British contenders as a field of fifty-three fought for the title. Charlotte Lembach (FRA) battled hard in the first semi-final against World number six, Rosella Gregorio (ITA) and went on to win 15-14. Sofya Velikaya (RUS) struggled in the early stages of the second semi-final against Olena Voronina (UKR) but eventually eased to a 15-9 victory. The final, a repeat of the gold medal match at the World Cup on Margarita Island, was a thrilling contest. Lembach started the match in great form before Velikaya made better use of the full length of the piste. On three occasions the Russian led before Lembach drew level but in the end it was Velikaya who took the title 15-14.
The second event on day two was the individual Men’s Epee event which saw a field of ninety-eight compete for the European crown. No British fencers were involved. The two compelling semi-finals finished 15-14 with Gauthier Grumier (FRA) beating Pavel Sukhov (RUS) in the first and home favourite, Max Heinzer (SUI) taking out Gabor Boczko (HUN) in the second. Heinzer stormed to an early lead at the beginning of the first period to the delight of the noisy home crowd but Grumier lengthened the distance and that proved to be the defining tactical decision. The French fencer went on to win 15-12.
On the third day of the event Natalia Sheppard represented Great Britain in the Women’s Foil individual event, forming part of the field of forty-three. Winning two first round fights from five was not enough for her to progress into the direct elimination stage of the competition.
Larissa Korobeynikova (RUS) trailed for much of the first semi-final against thirty-nine year old Aida Mohanmed (HUN) but won 14-13 in a priority minute. Elisa Di Francisca (ITA) faced teammate Arianna Errigo in the second semi-final and dominated the fight from start to finish. She went on to fight for gold with a 15-8 victory. Di Francisca took control of the final over Korobeynikova in the early stages, taking a 9-3 lead into the first break. The Russian adopted a more patient approach in the second period and closed to 11-10 down before Di Francisca sprung back into life. The Italian won her third successive European title 15-13.
The last individual event of the championships saw a field of fifty-seven compete including four fencers from Great Britain. Soji Aiyenuro (V2D4), Alex Crutchett (V3D2), James Honeybone (V3D2) and Curtis Miller (V3D3) all did enough to progress through the first round. In the round of 64 Honeybone beat Aiyenuro 15-5 and was the only British fencer to make the 32 as Ocinski (POL) knocked out Crutchett 15-6 and Szabo (GER) beat Miller 15-7. Honeybone faced world number two, Alexey Yakimenko (RUS) in the next round. The Russian was too strong for him and went on to win 15-8.
Max Hartung (GER) defeated the reigning World Champion Nikolay Kovalev (RUS) 15-11 in the first semi-final and the current Olympic Champion, Aron Szilagyi (HUN) beat Yakimenko 15-13 in the second. In the first period of the gold medal match, Szilagyi had to take a ten-minute injury time out after Hartung accidently stepped on the Hungarian’s foot. When they returned to the piste Szilagyi showed no visible signs of distress but it was Hartung who took an 8-6 lead into the break. Solid use of distance and tactical variety was the key to Szilagyi drawing level at 10-10 before controlling the remainder of the fight. The Olympic Champion sealed his first individual European title with a 15-11 win.
Women’s Team Epee
The first of the team events included fourteen entries. Italy faced Estonia in the first semi-final and a strong start from the Estonians meant that the Italians had to chase late on. The world number one team were unable to close the gap and Estonia progressed 43-31. Sweden continued their fantastic season by beating the world number three team, Russia, in the quarterfinals. They went on to face the reigning champions, Romania in the second semi-final. Sweden led for much of a very tight match but the Romanian team showed their experience in the end, winning 45-42.
Italy faced Sweden for the bronze medal and eased to a 45-34 victory. The gold medal match between Estonia and Romania started with a non-scoring period of non-combativity but Romania edged into a 7-4 lead by the end of the third leg. The score remained tight during the second third of the match with Romania leading 24-21 going into the crucial final three legs. Beljajeva and Kirpu of Estonia tried to close the gap but failed as the Romanians (Branza and then Pop) opened their lead to 33-27 going into the final leg. Gherman (ROM) took on Embrich (EST) and with the Estonian having to chase a high scoring leg followed. Gherman managed her team’s lead well and the Romanian’s retained the title with a 45-35 victory.
Men’s Team Foil
Britain’s hopes were high going into this event as the team formed part of a twelve-strong field. A comprehensive 45-30 victory over Hungary in the round of 16 saw them face Italy – world number three – in the quarterfinal. A dominant start saw Great Britain (Davis, Halsted and Kruse) edge ahead 15-11 after three legs. As the team grew in confidence, so did their lead and they went into the final three legs 30-19 up. Italy were only able to score another six hits as the British team claimed their biggest scalp for the past few seasons, winning 45-25.
Great Britain faced Russia in the semi-finals and the Russian team were ready for them. Akhmatkuzin, Cheremisinov and Rigin pulled away from the start and went on to win 45-30. In the other semi-final, despite struggling in the early matches France went on to beat Germany 45-35.
The bronze medal match between Great Britain and Germany was tight after three legs with Germany leading 10-8. Bachmann, Joppich and Kroplin dominated the middle three legs and led 26-14 going into the seventh. Great Britain was unable to recover and Germany went on to take the bronze medal 45-37. France started the gold medal match with the bit between their teeth as Cadot, Le Pechoux and Mertine eased 15-11 ahead. They did not look back and led 30-21 after six legs, going on to win 45-35.
Men’s Team Epee
The nineteen teams competing in this event did not include one from Great Britain. The team of the season, France, won the first semi-final 43-34 against Ukraine and Estonia came from behind against the home team, Switzerland, to win the other semi-final 42-41 in a priority minute. Switzerland didn’t disappoint the home crowd as they took the bronze medal over Ukraine 39-28. The gold medal match was one-way traffic from the start as France claimed the gold medal that everyone expected them to, winning 45-32 over Estonia.
Women’s Team Sabre
Eleven teams took part in this event but did not include one from Great Britain. The top four seeds all made the semi-finals which saw France beat Italy 45-42 and Russia beat Ukraine 45-31. A brave effort from the Italian team in the bronze medal match saw them cling on to Ukraine in the early stages but the Ukrainians pulled away to take the medal 45-30. In the gold medal match Russia were too strong for France and eased to the title with a 45-36 victory.
Women’s Team Foil
Only eight teams took part in this event with no British entry. The top four teams made the semi-final, which saw Russia easily defeating Germany 45-20 and Italy overcoming France 45-36. France pulled away from Germany in the bronze medal match, breaking their confidence early and went on to win 45-28. A repeat of last year’s final meant a gold medal match-up between Russia and Italy. A great start from the Russians meant that they led 7-1 after two legs but Elisa Di Francisca pulled it back to 11-11 after three. The Italians built on Di Francisca’s performance and led 37-33 going into the anchor leg. On came Korobeynikova for the Russia and she put in a spectacular display to draw level at 44-44 with Errigo on the ropes. Somehow the Italian composed herself and retained the title for Italy with a 45-44 victory.
Men’s Team Sabre
Great Britain was one of the twelve teams taking part in this event but they lost 45-36 in the round of 16. In the placings matches they had a bye through the first stage, lost 45-34 to Poland but they beat Turkey 45-43 to finish eleventh. Romania, who beat the world number three team, Russia in the quarterfinals, could not repeat their performance in the first semi-final, losing 45-32 to Italy. Germany beat Hungary 45-40 in the other semi-final.
In the bronze medal match, Romania (Badea, Dolniceanu and Teodosiu) pulled away from Hungary in the first three legs to lead 15-11. Hungary (Gemesi, Szatmari and Szilagyi) staged a comeback over the next three legs and led 30-35 going into the final third. They went on to take the bronze medal 45-31. Italy (Curatoli, Montano and Occhiuzzi) faced Germany (Hartung, Szabo and Wagner) for the final gold medal of the championships and gave everyone the finale that they desired. An incredibly tight match saw Italy lead 15-13 after three legs only for Germany to overtake them to lead 30-29 going into the crucial final three bouts. Szabo extended the German’s lead to 35-32 over Occhiuzzi. The Italians brought on their substitute, Berre for the penultimate legs and he did a great job against Hartung to put the Italians 40-39 up going into the last leg. The Germans weren’t done as Wagner went up against Montano and drew level at 44-44. A brave parry riposte from Wagner meant that the Germans won their first ever European Men’s Team Sabre title 45-44.
Some of the competitors in Montreux will head to Baku, Azerbaijan, from the inaugural European Games before the season ends in Moscow with the World Championships.
Sign up to receive regular highlights from the exciting world of fencing - celebrating the best of our unique and inspiring community