Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Fencing – Men’s Individual Sabre – Medal Ceremony – Makuhari Messe Hall B – Chiba, Japan – July 24, 2021. Gold medallist Aron Szilagyi of Hungary on the podium REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
July 24, 2021
By Sakura Murakami
CHIBA, Japan (Reuters) -Hungarian fencer Aron Szilagyi made Olympic history on Saturday when he won the men’s individual sabre event, defending his title and becoming the first man to take three gold medals in a single discipline in the sport.
When he won the final point over Italy’s Luigi Samele, Szilagyi took his mask off and broke into a wide smile, pointing a finger to the sky.
“It’s amazing. I can’t tell you my feelings, but I’m very much overwhelmed,” he told reporters.
Szilagyi came close to losing a tight and tense semi-final against Georgian Sandro Bazadze. They were locked at 13-13 and Szilagyi’s final two points were awarded after deliberation by the referees, prompting Bazadze to throw his arms up in the air and eventually storm off into a back room.
But the Hungarian laid in strong from the beginning of the final with quick, decisive strokes, and the bout was over within ten minutes.
He took in the cheers from the crowd of volunteers, team members, and Olympic-related staff in an otherwise spectatorless venue and held the Hungarian flag aloft, while a coach massaged silver medallist Samele’s leg as the Italian shrugged and shook his head at team mates.
In the women’s epee individual competition, top-ranked Romanian Ana Maria Popescu lost the final match against third-ranked Sun Yiwen of China, missing her chance to claim her first gold and also make history as the oldest women’s epee individual winner.
In a tight bout, Sun managed to keep her lead and add to China’s gold medal haul, bringing in their third on the first full day of Olympic competition.
(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Karishma Singh and John Stonestreet)