Korea’s Sanguk Oh and returning Russian veteran, two-time individual World Champion Sofya Velikaya, have both taken gold at the men’s and women’s sabre FIE Grand Prix that took place in Moscow from May 11-13.
For hometown hero Velikaya, who fences for CSKA Moscow at club level, it marked a stunning second comeback to the sport, as it was her first international competition since she won silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She also took a break after the 2012 London Olympics when she gave birth to her son, Oleg.
It meant that the unranked Velikaya had to fence out of the pools to win, surprising Italy’s world number two, Rosella Gregorio, 15-11 in the table of 32 to clear a path to the medal rounds.
Even in the absence of the current world champion and world number one, Ukraine’s Olga Kharlan, who did not compete in Moscow, Velikaya still had to beat Korea’s world number six and 2012 Olympic gold medalist, Jiyeon Kim (15-5) in her semi, and then Hungary’s world number two, Anna Marton, (15-12) in a closely fought decider.
Marton had earlier made her way through the easier of the two draws but did have to overcome two-time Olympic champion, Mariel Zagunis from the United States, (15-12) to reach the gold medal match against the Russian.
In the men’s event, second-ranked Oh had to overcome US prodigy Eli Dershwitz in his quarterfinal (15-8) before accounting for Iranian veteran Mojtaba Abedini (15-9) in the semi. Abedini had earlier out-touched reigning two-time Olympic champion Aron Szilagyi (15-13) from Hungary to square their lifetime head-to-head at 3-3 in the table of 16.
In the final, Oh came up against Italy’s sixth-ranked Luca Curatoli. Curatoli had just caused an upset by defeating Oh’s Korean teammate, current world number one Gu Bongil, 15-11 in their semi-final. Unfortunately he couldn’t carry the same momentum in the gold medal match, losing easily to the Korean 15-8.
The win is Oh’s second World Cup tournament victory after the 23-year-old won in Cancun, Mexico in December of last year.
1. Sanguk Oh (KOR)
2. Luca Curatoli (ITA)
3. Mojtaba Abedini (IRI)
3. Bongil Gu (KOR)
5. Eli Dershwitz (USA)
6. Vincet Anstett (FRA)
7. Daryl Homer (USA)
8. Hansol Ha (KOR)
1. Sofya Velikaya (RUS)
2. Anna Marton (HUN)
3. Jiyeon Kim (KOR)
3. Mariel Zaguni (USA)
5. Cecilia Berder (FRA)
6. Liza Pusztai (HUN)
7. Risa Takashima (JPN)
8. Lucia Martin-Portugues (ESP)