Battle commences for FIE Foil Grand Prix supremacy in Shanghai
The world’s leading foil fencers will be in action this weekend as the International Fencing Federation’s (FIE) Foil Grand Prix is held in Shanghai, China.
Over 300 competitors will head to the Jing’An Sports Centre in Shanghai for the three day tournament from Friday 18 to Sunday 20 May, and judging by the quality of the field in both the men’s and women’s competitions it promises to be an exciting few days of fencing.
The men’s individual event will see all of the world’s current top 10 ranked foil fencers in action, led by world number one, Alessio Foconi of Italy. However the quality of the top ranked fencers behind and competing in Shanghai reflects just how much of a challenge he will face in pursuit of gold.
The USA duo of Race Imboden and Alexander Massialas, currently ranked two and three respectively in the world, are Foconi’s more immediate threats, with Imboden looking to emulate his success at FIE Absolute Fencing Gear Men’s Foil Grand Prix in Anaheim, California back in March.
On the occasion Massialas was a shock casualty in the last 32 and he will be looking to improve on that performance this time around, as will world number five, Daniele Garozzo, who exited that same event in the last 16. Their competition in Shanghai will also include the experienced figures of world number four Richard Kruse of Great Britain, and the Russian trio of Timur Safin (ranked six), Dmitry Zherebchenko (seven) and Alexey Cheremisinov (ten).
Russian World Champion Cheremisinov has already the eye this year after taking gold by beating Massialas in the Final of the FIE’s Löwe von Bonn World Cup event in February.
France’s Erwann Le Pechoux (ranked eight) and Italy’s Andrea Cassara (nine) make up the top ten contingent.
As will all Grand Prix events, expect to see a surprise package emerge from the pack and challenge the leading lights and there are a string of foil fencers lurking outside of the top ten who could well cause an upset. In particular, look out for the Japanese duo of Takahiro Shikine (ranked 12) and Toshiya Saito (14), the USA pair of Gerek Meinhardt (16) and Miles Chamley-Watson (25), or Hong Kong’s Nicholas Edward Choi (20) or Germany’s Peter Joppich (23).
In the women’s competition, the one they will all have to beat is Russia’s Inna Deriglazova.
The 28-year-old Russian and Olympic gold medallist and two-time world champion has been in fine form this season which was demonstrated with her victory in the Women’s Foil at the aforementioned FIE’s Absolute Fencing Gear Grand Prix in Anaheim.That is not to say she will have things all her own way in China as eight of the remaining nine top ten ranked women foil fencers will be competing.
They include Italy’s Alice Volpi (ranked second) who has tasted success this year by winning the women’s foil fencing event in Algiers, Algeria, in February. USA’s Lee Kiefer, ranked three, will also be competing and aiming to go one better than her defeat to Deriglazova in the semi-final in Anaheim, whilst the familiar names of France’s Ysaora Thubus (four), Italy’s Arianna Errigo (five) and Russia’s Svetlana Tripapina (six), Germany’s Anne Sauber and Tunisia’s Ines Boubakri (nine) will also provide stiff competition.
The weekend’s action in Shanghai kicks off with the round of pools, and preliminary round up to last 64 knockout rounds in the women’s competition on Friday (18 May). The same stages of the men’s competition take shape on Saturday (19 May), before the elimination rounds and Finals in both competitions on Sunday (20 May).
The Shanghai Foil Grand Prix is the penultimate event of the FIE’s nine-city Grand Prix event series for the 2017-2018 season, with the final event – the men’s and women’s epee – being held in Cali, Colombia, next weekend of Friday 25 to Sunday 27 May.