Surprises abound in women’s fencing in Nanjing

The women’s fencing events at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games produced no shortage of shock results, including those recorded by talented Korean epeeist Lee Sinhee, who was the only fencer to leave Nanjing with two gold medals.

Massialas secures foil title

Sabrina Massialas (USA) emerged victorious from the women’s foil in the opening event of a fencing competition at the Nanjing International Expo Centre on 17 August.

The California native, a silver medallist at the FIE Junior and Cadet World Championships, produceda last-gasp feint in the final versus Karin Miyawaki (JPN), to secure a 7-6 sudden-death win at the end of a tightly contested battle.

“I’m speechless; it hasn’t really hit me yet. My voice is shot from screaming so much,” she said. “It gives me a whole bunch of new inspiration and motivation for the future. We were at 6-6. I’ve been in many high-stress situations so I’m used to it. I knew that if I worked for one touch that I could get it, so that’s what I did.”

Massialas, who is trained by her father Greg, a three-time Olympic medallist himself, even surpassed the achievements of her brother, Alex, who won a silver medal at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

“I started the day slowly. The Games were getting to me a bit. I had no fire in me, no fight. Afterwards, my dad said, ‘You’ve got to fight, be aggressive, be mean.’ And so I got myself in the zone,” she explained.

“I wanted the gold, so I’m a little disappointed,” said Miyawaki. “In April, at the Cadet World Championships, I found myself in the same situation [against Massialas in extra time]. Then, I launched an attack and she touched me, so this time I focused on being more defensive. I wanted revenge.”

In the semi-finals, Miyawaki had defeated 2014 cadet world champion and global rankings leader Marta Martyanova (RUS), who went on to lose the bronze medal bout to China’s Huang Ali by a 13-8 scoreline.

“I didn’t perform all that well, but I’m going to try harder in the future. Practice makes perfect,” said Martyanova. “I didn’t win any medals today, so of course I’m pretty disappointed.”

Lee Sinhee claims surprise epee victory

Lee Sinhee (KOR) created a significant upset in the women’s epee final on 18 August by overcoming cadet world champion Eleonora De Marchi (ITA). Favourite for gold, De Marchi had shown her class at the semi-final stage, coming back from 10-6 down against Catherine Nixon (USA) to eventually triumph 15-11.

In the final, however, Lee Sinhee was just too strong for the highly fancied Italian, winning 15-13 in an intense duel. “I gave all I had to come back in my semi-final bout,” remarked De Marchi. “And during the gold medal match, I was extremely tired. In any case, my opponent was better than me today, because even though I knew what needed to do, I was unable to anticipate her attacks. She’s a great fencer.”

In the bronze medal match, Sweden’s Asa Linde picked up her country’s first-ever YOG fencing medal by beating Catherine Nixon. “I’m speechless. I’m so happy,” said the Scandinavian.

“I really wanted to take home a medal. When I lost my semi-final, my coach told me, ‘Focus on the next match and think about it later’, and it worked.”

Moseyko reigns supreme

There were no such surprises on the third day of fencing action, during which Russia’s Alina Moseyko cemented her reputation as one of the sport’s rising stars to add the YOG sabre title to her cadet world crown.

Moseyko, the world number one, was in impressive form all day, and put in an authoritative performance in the final against number six seed Chiara Crovari (ITA) to win 15-10. “I’m a little disappointed because I was in touching distance of the gold medal, but I’m content with the silver,” stated Crovari.

“Moseyko also knocked me out of the Cadet World Championships, and I clearly haven’t found a way of beating her yet. But at least this time I got a little closer,” she added.

Petra Zahonyi (HUN) gained an unexpected spot on the podium, getting the better of Japan’s Misaki Emura – third at Plovdiv 2014 – in a close contest (15-13).

“It’s wonderful to get a bronze in my first Youth Olympic Games – it means so much!” exclaimed the delighted medallist. “I didn’t expect a particular result, because I knew that anything could happen. I trained so hard all summer; it was worth it.”

Second gold for Lee Sinhee

The mixed continental team event on 20 August brought the fencing competition to a close in a spirit of international harmony, as the Asia-Oceania team won gold by overpowering a ‘Europe 1’ side that featured six reigning world cadet champions by a score of 30 to 26.

That meant Lee Sinhee, became the only fencer to land two golds at Nanjing 2014.

After finishing fourth in the women’s sabre, Misaki Emura ensured she would not be going home empty-handed, snatching a 5-5 draw with Alina Moseyko to secure gold for her team. “The other team was very strong. It was packed full of world champions. But we managed to establish a powerful bond – that was our main strength today,” explained the Japanese athlete. “It was an interesting tournament,” added her team-mate, Karin Miyawaki. “Whenever I lost a point or had a dip in form, another team member was always there to keep us in it.”

Emura summed up the positive spirit of the event, saying: “I found out you can really count on other people. This event is centred on the idea of making connections with competitors from other countries and breaking down barriers. And that’s a great thing for the Youth Olympic Games.”