20th July 2014
Honeybone secures top 64 finish
The senior World Championships began on 15th July in Kazan, Russia with three days of qualification rounds to get down to sixty-four fencers in each event. The first medals were awarded on day four with individual events in women’s and men’s sabre.
No British fencers were involved in the women’s sabre event as 101 participants fought for the world title.
Jiyeon Kim (KOR) provided the biggest shock of the day going out 15-14 in an epic battle with Lucrezia Sinigaglia (ITA). Familiar names lined up for the semi-finals as Mariel Zagunis (USA) faced Yana Egorian (RUS) and Ekaterina Dyachenko (RUS) took on Olga Kharlan (UKR).
In the first semi-final, Egorian started well and went 4-2 into the lead. Better control of distance from Zagunis meant that she drew level but after a failed video appeal Egorian went into the break with a slender 8-7 lead. Zagunis emerged from the break with a better game-plan and after levelling at 10-10 went on to win 15-12. The second semi-final was a repeat of the European Championship final and Kharlan stormed to an 8-2 lead at the break and went on to win 15-7.
As expected the final between Zagunis and Kharlan was a display of immense tactical ability mixed with fantastic athleticism. Zagunis edged the first period taking an 8-6 lead into the break. Kharlan managed to level at 9-9 before tumbling off the raised piste whilst trying to evade an attack from the American fencer. In a display of great sportsmanship, Zagunis immediately went to the aid of her opponent who fortunately was not badly hurt. The fall seemed to spur Kharlan on and employing a brave defensive approach she took the world title 15-12.
The second event of the championships was the men’s sabre individual event where 122 fencers, including Soji Aiyenuro, Alex Crutchett, James Honeybone and Curtis Miller of Great Britain fought to become the 2014 World Champion.
Aiyenuro (V4D2), Crutchett (V3D2) and Miller (V4D2) all progressed through the first round earning byes through the first of two preliminary qualifying fights. James Honeybone won all of his first round matches and progressed directly to the round of 64. No other British fencer was able to join him as Vu (VIE) defeated Aiyenuro 15-12, Szatmari (HUN) beat Crutchett 15-9 and Quintero (VEN) knocked out Miller 15-10. In the round of 64 Honeybone face Abedini (IRI) and trailed 8-6 at the break. Despite closing the gap to 10-9 down Abedini prevailed 15-10.
The first semi-final between Nikolay Kovalev (RUS) and Tiberiu Dolniceanu (ROU) took place mainly in the centre of the piste with neither fencer seemingly willing to concede much ground. Kovalev went into the break 8-6 and went on to win 15-9 with a variety of hits including one stunning parry riposte. In the second semi-final Alexey Yakimenko (RUS) was on course for making it an all-Russian final for the second year in a row at the World Championships as he took an 8-5 lead into the break. At the start of the second period his opponent, Bongil Gu (KOR) had other ideas and began the start of what was to be a fantastic comeback. Using the full length of the piste, Gu was able to pick off his Russian opponent in attack and defence, going on to win 15-12
With the home crowd behind him Kovalev’s start to the final could not have been better. He went into the break 8-0 up with Gu looking completely frustrated and out of ideas. Despite a better performance in the second period Kovalev went on to take the title 15-7 with his fast-slow-fast attacks being a feature of the gold medal match.
GB Individual placings: Honeybone 35th, Miller 69th, Aiyenuro 72nd & Crutchett 74th.
The fifth day will feature individual events in men’s and women’s foil.