July 28, 2021

CHIBA, Japan (Reuters) -Top-ranked South Korea cruised to victory in the men’s team fencing final against Italy on Wednesday, retaining the title they won at the 2012 London Olympics – the last time the event was in the Games.

With the combination of individual bronze medallist Kim Jung-Hwan and world champion Oh Sang-uk in their ranks, South Korea started strong and comfortably won 45-26.

For Kim, who quit the sport in 2018 only to return a year later, the past year was one of sacrifice.

He got married last year but was barely able to see his new wife due to COVID restrictions and lengthy training camps. He hasn’t seen his wife in person for the past four months.

“I want to give my gold medal to my wife, definitely,” he said.

“Every single game today was hard, so I’m really glad we made it to the gold medal,” he added.

For Italy, the world number one team remained unbeatable.

“It was pretty tough, and the score alone shows what happened on the piste,” said Italy’s Luigi Samele.

“But we are happy in a way because they just show today that they are stronger, and they deserved it, absolutely.”

The silver medal marked a dream come true for Enrico Berre, whose team mate Aldo Montano was his hero since Berre saw him compete 17 years ago.

“He was so important for me to trust in something bigger than a normal career. Having him in the gym with me gave me so much energy,” Berre said.

The 2016 Rio Olympics did not hold the men’s sabre team event due to a rotation system where one team event from the men’s and women’s disciplines is not held.

Tokyo 2020 is the first Olympics where all 12 events are being held.

(Reporting by Sakura MurakamiEditing by Shri Navaratnam, Lincoln Feast and Christian Radnedge)