Olga Kharlan secures third women’s individual sabre World title in Leipzig
Ukraine’s Olga Kharlan secured a third World Championship victory by taking the gold medal in the women’s individual sabre at the 2017 FIE World Fencing Championships in Leipzig, Germany.
Kharlan, the world number six, beat Tunisia’s Azza Besbes, ranked number 10 in the world, in a largely one-sided Final to claim her hat-trick of titles to crown what was a strong showing by the Ukrainian champion.
Whilst Kharlan took the plaudits for her success, it was also a successful competition for the Japan’s women’s sabre fencers, with three of them – Misaki Emura, Shihomi Fukushima and Norika Tamura – all making the quarter-finals. Fukushima, currently ranked 23 in the world, in particular raised the eyebrows of many by beating the world number one, Hungary’s Anna Marton, in the last 32 by a 15-8 scoreline.
That was not the only surprise in a competition which again produced its usual fair share of surprises along the way and at the same stage of the competition. World number three, Jiyeon Kim of Korea, was beaten 15-8 by Japan’s Misaki Emura, currently ranked 17 in the world, whilst world number five, Russia’s Yana Egorian, was knocked out 15-13 by world number 30, Lucia Martin-Portugues of Spain.
Kharlan encountered no such problems, beating compatriot Olga Zhovnir 15-7 in the last 64, Poland’s Bogna Jozwiak 15-9 in the last 32, and Italy’s Rossella Gregorio 15-12 in the last 16.
Japan’s Tamura was Kharlan’s next victim in the quarter-finals by a 15-9 scoreline, ahead of the Ukrainian securing her Final berth with a 15-10 victory in the semi-finals over world number two, France’s Cecilia Berder.
Besbes’ passage to the gold medal match was much tougher, having to overcome the challenge of Germany’s Larissa Eifler 15-11 in the last 64, Ukraine’s Yuliia Bakastova 15-13 in the last 32, before edging past Korea’s Jisu Yoon 15-14 to reach the quarter-finals. Here she brought Fukushima’s run to an end with a 15-9 victory, before she faced a much closer fight against world number seven, Italian Irene Vecchi, winning the semi-final by only a single point, 15-14.
The exertions of that semi-final was perhaps one clash too many for the Tunisian as Kharlan overwhelmed Besbes in the Final, winning by a comfortable margin of 15 touches to 5 to take gold and her third World Championship title.
“I’m so tired, but so happy,” said Kharlan.
“I did my best, and this is so cool, but I don’t want to stop. This is all moving toward my dream of Olympic gold”