Hungarian Aron Szilagyi claimed his second consecutive Olympic gold medal when he defeated world championship runner-up Daryl Homer (USA) 15-8 on 10 August.
The 26-year-old Hungarian stormed through the rounds with confidence before eventually grabbing his back-to-back Olympic gold in fine style against Homer. By claiming the title he denied Homer what would have been America’s first men’s fencing gold in more than 100 years.
“I won my first Olympic gold at the age of 22, so I didn’t really know what it was all about. Now I know what I just earned, what a gold medal is. I’m just very, very happy and proud,” said Szilagyi.
“Daryl Homer is a very aggressive and dynamic fencer. He is one of the fastest competitors here and my strategy was to break his dynamism in the middle so I didn’t let him attack me aggressively. And it worked. I was a bit lucky at the beginning that he couldn’t make the right parry and riposte and that I was able to make my way through. After that he couldn’t change his strategy which was good for me so I just had to continue doing what I was doing.”
Homer’s silver is the first US men’s sabre medal since the bronze went in 1984 to Peter Westbrook, a role model and early mentor to Homer, who has exchanged messages in recent weeks helping to guide the young Olympian’s mindset.
Speaking after the event, Homer admitted he was happy with second place, saying: “I’m elated. I worked really, really hard for this, ever since I finished second in the world championships last year. It’s a four-year journey to get here. I’m just extremely grateful that I was able to be on the podium today and that I competed at a very high level.”
On the same night world champion Inna Deriglazova of Russia held off a spirited comeback by London 2012 Olympic Games gold medallist Elisa Di Francisca of Italy to take gold in the women’s foil individual event.
An early three-point lead was not enough for the defending champion as her 26-year-old Russian rival came back strongly with a 7-0 rally. Finding herself 12-7 down with less than 30 seconds to the end of the bout, Di Francisca went all-or-nothing for victory, closing in at 12-11. Her last desperate attack, however, landed out of target.
Deriglazova said that by the end she was just trying to hang on. “At 12-8 she started to catch up. That’s my weakness: when I’m leading and get a few hits I start to panic. But the thought running through my mind was that I would make it to the end. I would have done whatever it took in those final two seconds to win.”
After claiming silver Di Francisca said: “I just didn’t take advantage of the time on the clock. But I know that I gave it all that I had, I really did. In London four years ago I won with one hit; here, I lost with one hit.”