Strong emotions and exciting action in Tauron arena as Sandro BAZADZE (GEO) secures the gold medal in the men’s sabre event.
BAZADZE, who is ranked first in the world after a splendid season, was the overwhelming favourite ahead of the competition. He was dominant in the pool, winning all six bouts and securing the 1st seed entering the direct elimination. On his way to the semifinal, BAZADZE defeated Angelos PAGKALOS (GRE), Andras SZATMARI (HUN), and Andriy YAGODKA (UKR). In the semifinal he faced three-time Olympic champion and current world no. 2 Aron SZILAGYI (HUN), a repeat of the semifinal of the 2022 world championship, where the latter won. It looked as if the Hungarian would win again when he was leading 13-10, but BAZADZE showed signs of strong mental resilience and managed to turn the match around and win 15-10 to advance to the final.
His opponent in the final, Polish fencer Krzysztof KACZKOWSKI, did not have the same smooth path to the gold medal match. After winning 3/5 matches in the pool, he earned himself the 27th seed in the direct elimination. Already the first bout was a tough one for the Pole, who managed to turn a 7-13 deficit into a 15-14 victory against David FRUMGARZTS (ISR). He then went on to defeat Michele GALLO (ITA) and George DRAGOMIR (ROU) 15-7. To reach the final, KACZKOWSKI defeated Razvan URSACHI (ROU) and then William DEARY (GBR) 15-14, once again boasting an impressive comeback. When asked how he keeps winning from behind, KACZKOWSKI emphasised the importance of mental health training and also applauded to the crowd for supporting him. DEARY, who received a bronze medal, said at the press conference ”At the end of the day I am happy with the day but I cannot say I am satisfied, we athletes of course always want to win.”
In the final BAZADZE, two-time European champion, fenced uphill as he fenced not only against KACZKOWSKI, but also against the electric Polish crowd. Despite this, and after many emotional outbursts, BAZADZE won 15-13 and was crowned the new men’s sabre champion of the European Games Krakow-Malopolska 2023. ”I am really happy with today, the biggest competition of the year.”, said BAZADZE who then added that ”This is not the end, but I will work every day to always do my best.”
European Games Krakow-Malopolska 2023 is the Europe’s biggest multidisciplinary sporting event in 2023. More than 7 thousands athlete 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.