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Dzhoan Feybi BEZHURA (UKR) secures Ukraine’s first medal of the fencing event at the European Games 2023 Kraków-Malopolska.

Starting the day off with 4 out of 5 victories in the pool round, she earned herself the 13th seed entering the direct elimination. BEZHURA, ranked 48th in the world, had a tough encounter with Katerina SALIGEROVA (CZE) in the round of 64, but managed to come out on top 15-12. She then went on to defeat 17-year old Sofija PROSINA (LAT) 15-4 and, after a strong performance, 4th-ranked Erika KIRPU (EST) 15-10. The quarterfinal against Emma FRANSSON (SWE) initially looked good for BEZHURA who took an early lead. FRANSSON clawed her way back to a deficit of 10-11 and gave BEZHURA a slight scare, but the Ukrainian then picked up her pace and could cross the finish line with 15-11 to reach the semifinal. There she defeated Alexandra EHLER (GER) 15-12 to reach the gold medal match. 

On the other side of the draw, Martyna SWATOWSKA-WENGLARCZYK (POL) showed some impressive fencing to reach the final. She had a rocky start to the day, winning only 3 out of 6 matches in the pool. She then picked up the pace and after first defeating Laura Katalin WETZKER (GER), SWATOWSKA-WENGLARCZYK went on to defeat fellow Polish fencer Magdalena PAWLOWSKA (POL) 15-14. To reach the final, SWATOWSKA-WENGLARCZYK defeated Greta VERES (ROU) 15-10, Angeline FAVRE (SUI) 15-14, and world no. 4 Anna KUN (HUN).

The grand final was an even affair, with the two fencers trading touches until reaching a score of 10-10. From this point, however, BEZHURA put in an extra gear and eventually closed the match out 15-12 to secure the gold medal, the first for Ukraine. An emotional BEZHURA met the press after her victory: ”It was hard to prepare for the games, and I am so happy for the win. Ukraine is living through a horrible time and the win is really important for all of us.”

It turned out to be a day full of surprises as many of the favourites were eliminated early. World no. 14 Vlada KHARKOVA (UKR) left the competition already in the round of 64, while world no. 10 Nelli Differt (EST) lost in the round of 32. The silver medal for SWATOWSKA-WENGLARCZYK means that Poland has secured a medal in every event so far, 3 medals in 3 competitions.

European Games Krakow-Malopolska 2023 is Europe’s biggest multidisciplinary sporting event in 2023. More than 7 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.