FENCING: Minobe and Popescu triumph in Epee Grand Prix in Budapest

Romania's Olympic Epee medalist Ana Maria Popescu (Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikipedia)

The second Grand Prix of the season was a showcase for the veterans, as 31-year-old Kazuyasu Minobe and Romania’s Ana Maria Popescu, 34, came out as the winners.

Minobe won his first career Grand Prix gold medal – he also has three World Cup golds – by defeating Italy’s Andrea Santarelli in the final, 15-12. The silver was Santarelli’s third Grand Prix medal and his first silver after two prior bronzes.

Popescu has had a storied career, with an Olympic silver in 2008. She dispensed with Korea’s Young Mi Kang, 15-7, in the final as the two moved up in the FIE World Rankings to fourth (Popescu) and third (Kang).

Kang is also 34, but Popescu won her 15th Grand Prix medal, with seven wins dating back as far as 2008. This was Kang’s first-ever Grand Prix medal.

In the men’s Sabre World Cup in Padua (ITA), home favorite Luca Curatoli took the gold medal – his first ever in a World Cup – by edging legendary countryman Aldo Montano, 15-12. For the 40-year-old Montano – the 2004 Olympic Champion – it was his 20th World Cup medal, but his first in three years.

American Eli Dershwitz, ranked no. 1, finished fifth – losing in the quaretrfinals – but maintained his top ranking.

The women’s Sabre World Cup was won by Russia’s reigning World Champion, Sofia Podzniakova, who defeated three-time World Champion Olga Kharlan (UKR) in the final, 15-13. Despite being the current world champ, this was Podzniakova’s first World Cup medal ever, while Kharlan won her 26th. Summaries:

FIE Epee Grand Prix
Budapest (HUN) ~ 8-10 March 2019
(Full results here)

Men’s Epee: 1. Kazuyasu Minobe (JPN); 2. Andrea Santarelli (ITA); 3. Tibor Andrasfi (HUN) and Max Heinzer (SUI). Semis: Andrasfi, 15-9; Santarelli d. Heinzer, 15-10. Final: Minobe d. Santarelli, 15-12.

Women’s Epee: 1. Ana Maria Popescu (ROU); 2. Young Mi Kang (KOR); 3. Injeong Choi (KOR) and Coraline Vitalis (FRA). Semis: Popescu d. Choi, 13-11; Kang d. Vitalis, 15-13. Final: Popescu d. Kang, 15-7.

FIE Sabre World Cup
Padua (ITA) ~ 8-10 March 2019
(Full results here)

Men’s Sabre: 1. Luca Curatoli (ITA); 2. Aldo Montano (ITA); 3. Max Hartung (GER) and Benedikt Wagner (GER). Semis: Curatoli d. Wagner, 15-12; Montano d. Hartung, 15-10. Final: Curatoli d. Montano, 15-13.

Men’s Team Sabre: 1. Korea; 2. Iran; 3. Italy; 4. Romania. Semis: Korea d. Romania, 45-28; Iran d. Italy, 45-43. Third: Italy d. Roman, 45-41. Final: Korea d. Iran, 45-28.

FIE Sabre World Cup
Athens (GRE) ~ 8-10 March 2019
(Full results here)

Women’s Sabre: 1. Sofia Pozdniakova (RUS); 2. Olga Kharlan (UKR); 3. Ji-Yeon Kim (KOR) and Lisa Pusztai (HUN). Semis: Pozdniakova d. Kim, 15-11; Kharlan d. Pustzai, 15-05. Final: Pozdniakova d. Kharlan, 15-10.

Women’s Team Sabre: 1. France; 2. Russia; 3. Italy; 4. United States. Semis: France d. U.S., 45-34; Russia d. Italy, 45-39. Third: Italy d. U.S., 45-42. Final: France d. Russia, 45-32.