Fencing returns with old rivalries and more medals than ever


HIGHLIGHTS FROM RIO: Russia’s Yana Egorian won the women’s sabre, denying longtime rivals Sofya Velikaya and Olha Kharlan an individual Olympic gold medal to add to their numerous world titles. Ibtihaj Muhammad became the first U.S. athlete to wear a hijab — a Muslim head scarf — while competing in the Olympics. She won bronze in team sabre.

WHAT’S NEW: There are team events for men and women in all three disciplines for the first time. Until now, only two men’s and two women’s disciplines had team events at each Olympics on a rotation system.

TOKYO EXPECTATIONS: Hungary’s Aron Szilagyi is considered one of the all-time best after winning back-to-back men’s sabre gold medals in 2012 and 2016. He can become the first to win that event three times. Epee world champion Nathalie Moellhausen could win Brazil’s first Olympic fencing medal. She used to compete for Italy.

ATHLETES TO WATCH: The South Korean team’s emphasis on athleticism and speed has helped transform several fencing events, especially men’s sabre and foil … Ukraine’s Kharlan and Russia’s Velikaya are longtime rivals in women’s sabre, both still chasing that individual Olympic gold … On the U.S. team, the men’s foil fencers could chase individual and team gold medals, while Eli Dershwitz in men’s sabre and Lee Kiefer in women’s foil are also contenders … U.S. sabre fencer Mariel Zagunis won gold in 2004 and 2008 and she’s back for her fifth Olympic Games.

GOLD MEDAL MOMENT(S): Medals awarded every day from July 24 through Aug. 1.

More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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