The SK Telecom Grand Prix provided the last chance for sabre fencers to qualify for the Olympic Games by world ranking and the competition for places to make Rio 2016 was predictably intense.
In the women’s competition, world number five Egorian beat local favourite Seo Jiyeon, ranked 36 in the world, 15-10 in the final
Greece’s Vassiliki Vougiouka and world number one, Russia’s Sofya Velikaya, had to settle for sharing the bronze medal position.
The teams from Russia and South Korea had already qualified for the Olympic Games, so the results for Egorian, Velikaya and Seo will only enhance their chance of selection by their national federations.
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With eight teams already qualified for the women’s team sabre event in Rio, the competition represented the last chance for fencers from other nations to pick up one of the seven additional ranking places available for the individual event.
Tunisia’s Azza Besbes was already assured qualification for the only additional Africa zonal berth, and China’s Chen Shen had also confirmed one of the additional Asian places. However results in Korea mean that Shen will be joined by Japan’s Chika Aoki as the Asian zonal qualifiers.
Vougiouka’s third-place finish was more than enough to guarantee her one of the European places. Hungary’s Anna Marton secured the other zonal spot for Europe by finishing in the top eight in Seoul. Argentina’s Maria Perez Maurice and Venezuela’s Alejandra Benitez Romero will line up as the qualifiers from the Americas in Rio.
With no men’s sabre team event at this year’s Olympics, results in Korea had a huge bearing on individual qualification.
Eight fencers – Russia’s Alexey Yakimenko, Romania’s Tiberiu Dolniceanu, Hungary’s Aron Szilagyi, Germany’s Max Hartung, Italy’s Aldo Montano, USA’s Daryl Homer and two Koreans in Bongil Gu and Junghwan Kim, all went into the event knowing that they had qualified
The 2015 junior world champion, Dershwitz continues to show good form just when it matters by winning the men’s sabre tournament.
The 20 year old beat first-time medalist Iran’s Mojtaba Abedini 15-9 in the final, with the bronze medals going to italy’s Diego Occhiuzzi and Russia’s Nikolay Kovalev.
The results mean that all four have now qualified for the Olympics after season-long battles with their own team mates.
These 12 fencers will joined by Germany’s Matyas Szabo and Belarus’ Aliaksandr Buikevich as the world’s top 14 athletes to qualify by ranking.
There are also two additional places for each zone and these were picked up by France’s Vincent Anstett and Hungary’s Tamas Desci for Europe; Brazil’s Renzo Agresta and Canada’s Joseph Polossifakis for the Americas; Iran’s Ali Pakdaman and China’s Wei Sun for Asia; and Egypt’s Mohamed Amer and Benin’s Yemi Apithy for Africa.
The road to Rio is not completely closed for those fencers still not qualified with one final chance for coming up via their zonal qualifiers in April.
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