Poland’s Julia WALCZYK-KLIMASZYK withstood the pressure and secured the host nation’s first medal in the fencing event of the European Games Krakow-Malopolska 2023.
Entering the competition as the highest ranked fencer and the biggest favourite for the gold medal, she passed the pool with a 5/6 record to earn herself the 5th seed entering the direct elimination. To reach the quarterfinal, WALCZYK-KLIMASZYK beat Dorja BLAZIC (CRO) 15-7 and Kata KONDRICZ (HUN) 15-7. In the quarterfinal, WALCZYK-KLIMASZYK faced Lior DRUCK (ISR) in a close match, but the Poznan fencer came out on top 15-13 to reach the semifinal. Malina CALUGREANU (ROU) was the opponent in the semifinal, which was a real nailbiter, but lost to WALCZYK-KLIMASZYK in the priority minute and secured the bronze medal. Despite her loss, the Romanian was content. “I am very happy today, it was one of the best fencing performances in my life and I am very satisfied with what I did today, she said at a press conference following the competition.”
WALCZYK-KLIMASZYK’s opponent in the final, Flora PASZTOR (HUN), reached the semifinal match by defeating Ester SCHREIBER (SWE), Olivia WOHLGEMUTH (AUT), and Hanna LYCZBINSKA (POL). In the semifinal, PASZTOR comfortably defeated Gili KURITZKY (ISR) 15-7 to reach the gold medal match.
In the final, carried forward by the frenetic home crowd, WALCZYK-KLIMASZYK took a comfortable lead in the final against Flora PASZTOR (HUN) which she managed to keep over the finish line and win the gold medal in women’s foil. The new European Games champion said “It is amazing to win here in Kraków and to have the support of my family and everyone else. It is never an easy match against Flora, but every time I got tired the crowd would give me so much energy.”
However, the big story of the day was 14-year old Gili KURITZKY (ISR) who secured a bronze medal. Ranked 250th in the world senior ranking, KURITZKY fought from below and eliminated established fencers like Kristina PETROVA (UKR) and Erica CIPRESSA (ITA) on her way to the sensational medal, her first ever at the senior level.
The women foil fencers will return to Tauron Arena later in the week for the team competition, which also acts as an olympic qualifier.
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.
Author: Daniel Lazer