In the closing event of Tauron Arena, France dominated their competition to secure the gold in women’s team sabre.
The overwhelming world no. 1 had a BYE in the round of 16, entering the competition against Germany in the quarterfinal. It was a comfortable performance for the French, defeating the German team 45-29 to advance to the semifinal. There they faced Bulgaria, who had just upset the Spanish team 45-44 to reach the country’s first-ever European semifinal in the event. The French would put an end to that historic run, though, and secured the win 45-35 after a solid performance.
Their finals opponent, 3rd-seeded Italy, also had a BYE in the round of 16. Their day almost ended in the quarterfinal against Azerbaijan in a thrilling battle. After having the lead after five legs, the Azerbaijani team picked up the pace and after the eight leg led by impressive 40-33. Hanging on by a thread, Italy’s captain Martina CRISCIO came out with a bang to take the match back to a draw, 42-42. Azerbaijani Anna BASHTA could not stop the Italian momentum, and after winning the final leg by 12-2 the Italian team could advance 45-42 to the semifinal. The semifinal opponents were Hungary, world no. 3. The Italians did not come to play, and convincingly beat the Hungarians 45-40 to advance to the final.
The big question before the semifinal was if Bulgaria would manage another upset, or whether the Hungarian team would show why they are among the top teams in the world. Bulgaria came out strong and actually led by 35-34 after the seventh leg. In the eight leg Hungary was represented by Liza PUSZTAI, who despite her young age has been among the world’s top fencers for many years. She showed why, and defeated Olga HRAMOVA (BUL) 6-1 to secure a comfortable Hungarian lead 40-36. It all came down to Bulgaria’s anchor Yoana ILIEVA to bring back the match, but she was not able to salvage the medal and Hungary eventually won 45-40. In the mixed zone it was a satisfied team: ”We are very happy! We did not have the strongest individual competition, but the team event was more important for us so we are all so happy that we managed to win this medal”.
The final was one between two giants, Italy and France. The French favourites initially dominated the match, and would never let go of the lead. After a 35-25 result in the seventh leg, the individual European champion and silver medalist Manon APITHY-BRUNET and Sara BALZER sealed the deal, taking France to a victory 45-38. The new champions were content: ”We are really happy now, it has certainly been a tough day. Everyone was fencing great today, and the experienced Berder giving us advice really helped us.”
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.