Russia’s Sofiya Velikaya and Nikolay Kovalev have topped the individual competition at the Moscow Sabre tournament and booked their places on the country’s fencing team for the London Games.
With 130 men and 113 women participating in the 37th annual Moscow Sabre Fencing tournament, it’s no wonder the event continues to grow in popularity year by year.
The preliminary rounds were held throughout Saturday, in order to determine this year’s individual champions.
The Italians and French have dominated the sport, but there were a lot of other nations represented as well.
The event continues to attract athletes from all over the world. Apart from being a full-fledged international competition in its own right it’s also the last chance for fencers to qualify for the summer Olympics.
In the women’s final, Russia’s Sofiya Velikaya managed to defend her 2011 title, but it took her time to overcome her Chinese opponent.
Afterwards she was pleased with the win, but said a lot more needed to be done prior to the Olympics.
“My trainer and I were pleased with the performance I put in today, but a lot still needs to be done in preparation to the Olympics, especially psychologically, as that’s the most difficult aspect,” Velikaya stressed.
In the men’s final, Russia’s Nikolay Kovalev managed to beat France’s Julien Pillet in a hard fought bout.
The win brought the cup back into Russian hands, after fencers from Hungary and South Korea claimed victory in 2010 and 2011.
“Today’s victory doesn’t mean I’m in some super form right now,” Kovalev said. “There’s still a few months left until the Olympic Games, so any form could vanish by then. So for me this event is simply just another phase in our preparations.”
On Sunday, Russia’s fencing team will also get the chance to prove themselves against the world’s best and, hopefully, do enough to ensure qualification for the sport’s premier event in August.