The French women did it again, securing their fourth European gold medal in team epee in a span of six years.
The French favourites looked dominating throughout the day, commencing their journey to gold by defeating Lithuania 45-17 in the round of 16 after an initial BYE in the round of 32. Also in their quarterfinal against the young team from Israel they dominated, eventually winning by 45-36. The winning flow continued also against Switzerland in the semifinal, and after a win with 45-32 the French advanced to the final.
Their opponents Hungary had considerably more obstacles to reach the gold medal fight. Seeded as the 6th team entering the competition, the Hungarians had a BYE through the round of 32 and fenced their first match against Spain in the round of 16. The Spanish put up a strong performance and led by four points, 14-10, after four legs. Hungary clawed their way back to 18-18 in the fifth, but again lost the lead to Spain in leg 6, with Spain being up 24-21. Hungary then sent their reserve to fence leg seven, and Dorina WIMMER (HUN) managed to tie the match at 26-26. Despite a valiant Spanish effort, the finishing Hungarian pair of Eszter MUHARI and individual bronze medalist Anna KUN were too strong, securing the victory 38-35. In the quarterfinal they had to gear up against hometown favourites Poland. The loud crowd of the home team did not stop Hungary, who advanced to the semifinal after winning 45-39. It looked promising at the start also against Italy in the semifinal, theHungarians being up 13-10 after four legs. In the fifth Italy managed to equalize the score, and then retook the lead 23-17 in the seventh leg. In the eight, Eszter MUHARI boasted an impressive win 7-1 to bring back the score to tied. In the last leg, Italian anchor Rossella Fiamingo had a strong effort, but individual world no. 4 Anna KUN was too strong and Hungary eventually advanced to the final 38-31.
The bronze match featured Italy against the reigning bronze medalists Switzerland. The latter took an early lead, but Italy again showed their strong mental fortitude as they overtook the lead halfway and managed to pull through 37-33 to secure the medal. The final was the more exciting, with both France and Hungary performing the best they had throughout the whole day. Hungary surprisingly pulled away to an early lead and entering the last leg, led by three points, 31-28. Anna KUN initially looked as she would carry the Hungarians to the gold, but the French anchor Auriane MALLO-BRETON put up a strong fight, tying the match at 33-33. It all came down to the priority minute. After four double touches, the French fencer managed to get the first single hit to win the gold medal 34-33.
Text: Daniel Lazer
European Games Krakow-Malopolska 2023 is Europe’s biggest multidisciplinary sporting event in 2023. More than seven thousand athletes are competing in 26 sports and 29 disciplines for 253 gold medals. More than that, European Games 2023 are part of the qualification process for the Olympic Games in Paris 2024 in 19 sports. This great celebration of sports starts with opening ceremony in Krakow on 21st of June. The closing ceremony will take place on July 2nd.