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22THESWORDJANUARY2015SeniorInternationalRoundupOctober4representedthestartoaveryimportantinternationalseasonortwomassivereasons.TostartwiththeFIEhaveimplementedanewapproachtotheGrandPrixeventswithaviewtoattractingmoreinterestinthesportandultimatelytondsponsors.BypackaginguptheseeventsintermsobothlookandeelandaconsistentlyhighlevelodeliverytheaimistomakethemliketheGrandSlamsweseeintheinternationaltennisworld.ThesecondreasonisequallyasbigHalwaythroughthisseasonrankingpointsstarttocounttowardsqualicationorthe6OlympicGamesinRio.TheperiodleadinguptothestartoRioqualicationisinteresting.Ontheonehandimprovingyourrankingormaintainingahighonesetsyouupwellorwhenqualicationstarts.Ontheotherhandscoringpointsearlyintheseasonmeansthatyoullhavetodeendthemattheendothequalicationperiod.IllletyoudecidewhichyouthinkisbetterMensEpeeThingsbeganwithaWorldCupinBerneSwitzerland.TheindividualpodiumwasdominatedbytheFrenchwithLucenaytakingthegoldmedalandGrumierandRobeirisecuringthebronzemedals.TheHungarianImretookthesilvermedal.InthatkindoormitwasunsurprisingtoseetheFrenchwintheteamgoldbeatingSwitzerlandinthenal.KoreaUkraineItalyHungaryRussiaandtheUSAroundedoutthetopeight.AewweekslaterattheWorldCupinTallinitwasGrumierthatstoodatthetopothepodiumbutthistimehewasjoinedbyoutsiderKneipGERKauterSUIandPizzoITA.KoreabeatFrancetotheteamgoldasGermanyCzechRepublicRussiaSwitzerlandUkraineandHungarycompletedthetopeight.ItsnotbeenabadstartorFranceinthisdisciplinewithRobeirileadingGrumieratthetopotheindividualrankingsandFrancethirtypointsclearatthetopotheteamrankings.WomensEpeeThewomensepeeseasonbeganinLegnanoItalywithaWorldCupwhichwaswonbythe9WorldChampionshipsbronzemedallistPochkalovaUKR.ThisrepresentsatremendousreturntoormortheUkrainianwhohasonlytwicemadeitthroughtheroundo3sincethatmedalinAntalya.ShewasjoinedonthepodiumtherebythemoreamiliarnamesoBranzaROUHeidemannGERandSzaszHUN.IntheteameventEstoniacameawaywiththegoldmedalbeatingRomaniainthenalwithItalysecuringthebronzemedal.TheirseasoncontinuedinChinaattheXuzhouWorldCup.AgaintheindividualpodiumwastotallydominatedbyencersandteamsromEurope.SzaszHUNtooktheindividualgoldjoinedbyBranzaROULogunovaRUSandShemyakinaUKR.ItwasadiferentstoryintheteameventasthehostnationalwonthegoldmedalbeatingItaly.ItwasagreatdayortheSwedishteamwhocompletedtheteampodium.TheeventalsosawBritishencerCorinnaLawrenceachieveherbestWorldCupresultwithatwelthplacenish.SzaszsHUNimpressivestarttotheseasonmeansthatsheretainsthetopspotintheworldrankingandonlySunCHNandChoiKORareabletobreaktheEuropeandominanceinthetopeight.RussiaaretheclearleadersintheteamrankingsromtheveryyoungEstonianteamandChina.MensFoilThreeItaliansstoodontheindividualpodiumattherstmensoilWorldCupinSanFranciscobutitwasCadotFRAwhotookthegoldmedalromBaldiniLuperiandNista.TwoRussiansCheremisinovandKhavnskiywerejoinedbyImbodenUSAandtheresurgentOtaJPNinthetopeight.AterarockyendtothepreviousseasonitwouldhavebeenarelietotheItalianteamthattheywalkedawaywiththeteamgoldbeatingRussiainthenal.Germanytookthebronzemedal.TheTokyoWorldCupwasnextandImbodenUSAbeatRiginRUStothegoldmedalwithLeortFRAandCassaraITAjoiningthemonthepodium.ItalyelltotheUSAinthequarternalsotheteameventopeningthedoororRussiatosqueezepastFranceorthegoldmedal.Koreatookthebronzemedal.Despiteonlymakinga3andan8soarthisseasonMaCHNstillleadstheindividualworldrankingsromCheremisinovRUSandLeortFRA.ItisworthnotingatthisearlystageotheseasonthatthehighestrankedItalianisBaldiniinninthspot.WomensFoilMexicohostedthersteventinthisdisciplinewithaWorldCupinCancun.WorldnumberoneorthepastourseasonsErrigoITAtookthetitleandwasjoinedonthepodiumbyLimKORKimKORandGebetFRA.BoubakriTUNDeriglazovaRUSKeierUSAandBlazeFRAcompletedthetopeight.SurprisinglyFrancehadacomortablyvictoryoverItalyinthesemi-nalsotheteameventbutlosttoRussiainthenal.TheyheadedtoFranceorthesecondWorldCupotheseasoninStMaurandErrigowasatitagaintakingthegoldmedalromKeierUSADeriglazovaRUSandCiniITA.DiFranciscaVezzaliandVolpimeanttherewereveItaliansinthequarternalswhichwerecompletedbyKorobeynikovaRUS.Russiatookback-to-backteamtitlesinFrancebeatingItalytogoldwithFranceinthebronzemedalposition.RemarkablyErrigocurrentlyholdsveotheeightrankingtitlesavailablesoitisnosurprisethatshespointsclearotheworldnumbertwoandherteammateDiFrancisca.TwomoreItaliansBatiniandVezzalimakethewomensoilrankingslookprettygoodorthatnationespeciallygiventhattheyarerankednearlypointshigherthanRussiaatthetopotheteamrankings.MensSabreTherstmenssabreWorldCupinDakarSenegalwascancelledearlierthisyearwhichmeansthatatthetimeowritingtherehasonlybeenonemenseventsoarthisseasoninBudapest.GuKORledthewaytakinggoldromSzilagyiHUN.YakimenkoRUSMontanoITAHuebersGERSzatmariHUNHwangKORandYagodkaUKRweretheothersemiandquarternalists.RomaniaweresurprisewinnersotheteameventwheretheytookoutKoreainthequarternalsandthenedgedItalyorthegoldmedal.GermanybeatRussiaorthebronzemedal.Giventheactthattherehasbeenjustoneeventinthisdisciplinethisseasonitswaytooearlytolookattherankings.ThatsaidortherecordGumaintainshisnumberonestatusintheindividualrankingsandKorealeadGermanyItalyandRussiaintheteamrankings.byourSpecialCorrespondent