(Photo by Devin Manky)
By: Elizabeth Douglas – January 23, 2020
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics approach and tension builds as nations battle to qualify for extremely limited participation spots across all 33 sports. The struggle will play out in Vancouver in a few weeks with the world’s best fencers competing to represent their country in one of the most elegant and ancient sports on the Olympic program. A fencing World Cup of men’s épée at the Richmond Olympic Oval will be the scene – the second last chance in the world for these fencers to qualify for the Olympic Games. The Peter Bakonyi World Cup has been held since 2015, prior to which the Victor Gantsevich Grand Prix was held at the Richmond Olympic Oval from 2013-2014. The highlights, surprises and unexpected victories at these events over the years give a taste of the excitement and drama to come.
The World Cup in 2016 was an especially exciting one, as it lined up with the final competitions of Olympic qualifications for the team event. This means that a handful of countries were vying for the final qualifications spot. After a long, strenuous day of competing, the final spot came down to a fight between Hungary and Estonia in the semi-final. Tensions ran high as the two European teams fought for the chance to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil. With two strong teams betted against each other, it all came down to the final overtime minute, tied at 14-14. In fencing terms: “la belle”. Ultimately, in a flash, András Rédli of Hungary scored the 15th point and took a victory lap around the venue, waving his epee in the air.
Coming off a high from the semi-final bout, the Hungarian team fought their way to a gold medal against Kazakstan – an Olympic qualification and a World Cup gold medal all in one day.
(Team Hungary on the podium – 2016 Vancouver Men’s Epee World Cup – Photo by Devin Manky)
Another highlight came from the year before, with Pavel Pitra’s individual silver medal in 2015. The Czech Republic fencer was an underdog of the competition, seeded 80th after poules. However, he quickly proved himself as a worthy competitor with memorable victories against fencers like 2-time Olympic medalist Ivan Trevejo (FRA) in the round of 32 and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Jin-sun Jung (KOR) in the semi-final. Despite the long two days of competing, Pitra notably kept a huge, bright smile on his face, shining through his intense focus. Two years later, the Czech Republic team would go on to win the gold medal against Ukraine in 2017.
(Czech Republic vs. Ukraine – 2017 Vancouver Men’s Epee World Cup – Photo by
In 2019, Koki Kano of Japan took home the individual gold medal. Kano is currently ranked 9th in the FIE rankings, despite being only 22 years old. Not only did he win the gold medal, he faced some stiff competition along the way. The final saw Kano take on Italy’s Enrico Garozzo, where Kano came away victorious with a score of 15-7 in the first period. Garozzo is a previous Vancouver World Cup gold medalist from 2016, as well as a team silver medalist at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
(CUOMO Valerio vs. KANO Koki – 2019 Vancouver Men’s Epee World Cup – Photo by Devin Manky)
With another Olympic Games just around the corner, there are sure to be some exciting bouts at this year’s World Cup. Who will we see on top of the podium this year? Who will secure the chance to chase Olympic glory in Tokyo?