July 26, 2021

TOKYO (Reuters) – The champions of previous Olympic Games and the world championships will clash in the quarterfinal stage of the fencing competition at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Monday.

For the men’s individual foil event, world championship winner Frenchman Enzo Lefort will clash with Olympic defending champion Daniele Garozzo.

Garozzo won his table of 16 tournament against Japanese fencer Kyosuke Matsuyama by the skin of his teeth. With teammates cheering both fencers on, Matsuyama managed to add points in the final minutes of the bout, tying the two at 14-14.

Matsuyama’s coach could be seen telling Matsuyama to be “calm” and others were heard telling him not to hesitate. But the final point was over in a flash, as both fencers lunged at each other but Garozzo placed his weapon on his target to make it through to the quarterfinals.

Matsuyama lay prostrate on the piste, and was unable to move from it after his loss, crouching in silence.

Garozzo will face Lefort, who is a medal favourite and is placed third in the world rankings.

The women’s individual sabre event saw top medal contender Russian Sofya Velikaya and U.S. fencer Mariel Zagunis facing each other on the piste in the quarterfinals, with Velikaya winning the bout at 15-8.

Tokyo 2020 is Velikaya’s fourth Olympics. She won silver in the previous two Games, and a team gold, but is yet to claim an individual gold medal. She is ranked second in the world, but the path appears clear for her to claim the throne, with top-ranking Olga Kharlan out before reaching the table of 16 in an upset.

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)