On the first day of team competition in fencing, which is also an official European championship, the Italian women’s foil team sailed through the day to clinch the gold and the title of European champions.
They entered the day as overwhelming favourites, being the reigning champions of both Europe and the world. The team consisted of Martina BATINI, Alice VOLPI, Francesca PALUMBO, and Martina FAVARETTO, who are all ranked as the top eight fencers in the world. And they did not disappoint. After a BYE in the round of 16, they first comfortably beat Ukraine 45-26 in the quarterfinal, and then Hungary 45-35, to reach the final.
On the other side of the draw was the second-seeded French team, consisting of world champion Ysaora THIBUS, Anita BLAZE, Morgane PATRU, and Pauline RANVIER. They also had a BYE in the round of 16, but had a considerably harder time in their quarterfinal against Austria. The Austrian team led for most of the match, and entering the 6th leg they were ahead 18-21. Despite a strong performance from THIBUS who managed to tie the score in the 6th leg, Austria still entered the 8th leg with a one-point lead. Anita BLAZE won that leg 9-6, and after a concluding 5-4 leg from THIBUS the French managed to narrowly advance to the semifinal 45-42. The subsequent semifinal was an even affair leading up to the 8th leg as France led only by a single point, 30-29. Anita BLAZE then dominated the leg with 10-0 and Germany could not recover, eventually losing 31-45.
The bronze match initially went the way of Hungary who had the lead 18-17 after five legs. World no. 8 Anne SAUER (GER) would then come on to fence and managed to retake the lead 27-26. This lead this did not last for long, though, and Hungary again led by one point following bout no. 8. The German team secured the bronze only when world no. 13 Leonie EBERT (GER) dominated the final leg 14-6. The final result was 45-38.
The final between Italy and France was a repeat of the final from 2022, where Italy also won. This time, however, the match was closer than the 45-25 from Antalya. The French came off to a strong start with THIBUS gaining an early lead 5-1 after the first leg. Italy then showed why they are the best team of the world by securing a comfortable lead they would never let go off. Despite France closing in considerably in the middle, Alice VOLPI put the nail in the coffin in leg 5 with a 8-4 win, a win that France would never recover from. Francesca PALUMBO said at the interview: ”It was an amazing day. We deserve this victory after fighting so hard all day, and we really feel like a team!” This meant Italy won its first gold of the tournament, achieving one bronze in the individual competition.
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.