The first thing Italian fencer Davide di Veroli did after winning an epee gold medal at Buenos Aires 2018 on Monday was make an elated phone call to his coach back home.
The 17-year-old rang Maria Pia Bulgherini (ITA) moments after stepping off the piste at Africa Pavilion where he defeated Paul Veltrup (GER) 11-4.
As friends and family rushed to congratulate him, di Veroli’s other coach, Massimo Ferrarese (ITA), immediately handed a phone to the teen, so that Bulgherini did not miss out on the excitement and triumph despite being unable to attend the Games.
“Massimo and Maria Pia are both very important for me,” he said. “I consider them to be my second parents.”
The top seed was the favourite to win Monday’s contest, and even his opponents were enthralled by the Italian’s prowess.
“I was really nervous about the bout because Davide is such a strong fencer,” Veltrup said.
The German said he went into the gold medal bout with a plan, but di Veroli anticipated all his moves.
“It’s impossible to win against him today,” Veltrup said. “I was trying to be just a little bit faster than him, but he knew everything that I was going to do.”
Egypt missed out on a second fencing bronze medal after Khasan Baudunov (KGZ) landed the winning touch against Mohamed Elsayed (EGY) in overtime to break the draw, 14-13.
On the women’s side, Axelle Wasiak (BEL) also came agonisingly close to bronze, with the score tied in the last period before Veronika Bieleszova (CZE) landed the winning touch, 9-8.
“I think she forgot it was third, the last part of the match, so I was lucky,” Bieleszova said. The 16-year-old admitted feeling nervous throughout the day, but a personal mantra helped her regain composure.
“When I get nervous I always say the same couple of sentences to myself: be calm, give the monkey in your head a banana, and it will be OK,” she said.
Women’s gold went to Kateryna Chorniy (UKR), who overhauled a lead held in the final by Kaylin Sin Yan Hsieh (HKG) to win 11-9.