ILIEVA CLAIMS JUNIOR WOMEN’S SABRE EUROPEAN CROWN
Bulgarian Yoana Ilieva Storms to European Title
The first women’s event to be decided at the Junior European Fencing Championships of 2020 was the individual Sabre tournament. Yoano Ilieva was imperious throughout the day deservingly taking the title in dominant fashion.
Ranked third in Europe, Ilieva is a regular competitor on the senior international circuit and was arguably the favourite for the title. That tag comes with pressure but Ilieva showed no signs of nervousness, storming through the ranking round and emerging as the number one seed for the eliminator. She went on to beat Z. Cieslar (POL) 15-8, Gontsova (UKR) 15-8, Neikova (BUL) 15-7 to make the semi-finals where she faced Italian, Alessia Di Carlo, who was ranked tenth best in Europe. Ilieva’s dominance continued, leading 8-4 at the break before making the final with a 15-9 victory.
In the other half of the draw, European number five, Dariya Drozd of Russia faced the surprise package of the day, Ilinca Pantis of Romania. Pantis was ranked a lowly 117th in Europe but was in fine form on route to the semi-final taking out higher seeds throughout. Drozd, though, was ready for her in their top four match, leading 8-6 at the break and going on to make the final with a 15-10 victory.
In the gold medal match Ilieva demonstrated more variety off the line. She was composed and much more decisive on her way to an 8-3 lead at the break. In the second period Drozd started to deliberately fall short to take the action to a second phase. Ilieva was still better but the tactic allowed Drozd to introduce some variety. The Russian looked like she was getting back into the match so Ilieva went changed her tactics. She went on the attack and took the gold medal and the title brilliantly, 15-6. It was a great start to the 2020 Junior Championships.