- 18 Aug 2004
- Athens 2004
Vezzali wins very local battle for foil gold
The inhabitants of the small Italian town of Jesi were used to sporting success. For years, they had watched the exploits of local fencers Valentina Vezzali and Giovanna Trillini with pride and excitement, as the pair returned home with medal after medal. And now they were hoping for the tantalising prospect of their two favourite daughters coming face to face in an Olympic final.
Trillini had competed at the last three Games, taking part in the individual and team foil events and racking up four gold medals and two bronzes. Vezzali meanwhile had amassed three golds and a silver from her two appearances on the Olympic stage, including the individual women’s foil title at Sydney 2000.
In Athens there was no team foil event on the programme, so the pair were both free to concentrate on their individual endeavours. Both eased through their first round matches and then navigated their way past their quarter-final opponents, though Trillini was pushed hard by Hungary's Gabriella Varga.
Trillini then had another tough contest in the semi-final, where she beat Poland's Sylwia Gruchała 15-13, while Vezzali enjoyed a more straightforward path to the final as she conceded just seven points to the Hungarian Aida Mohamed.
It meant that Italy, and in particular Jesi, had been given the final it so wanted, as the two friends and compatriots finally prepared to face off for gold on the most prestigious stage of all.
Not surprisingly it proved a close contest. Trillini recorded the only touch of the first round, and by the close of the second round the two fencers were locked together at 6-6. But only one of them could emerge as the winner. – and it was Vezzali who slowly formed a decisive lead at the start of the third round, holding on for a 15-11 win to clinch her fourth Olympic gold, while Trillini settled for silver, and Jesi added two more Olympic medals to its list of honours.