Olympic Qualification – Havana Women’s Epee Update
Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification continued in Havana, Cuba this weekend for the Women’s epee discipline.
After the last event in Tallinn, Poland and Russia were joined in the top four automatic qualification places by China and the USA whilst Italy occupied the additional European spot. With no African team inside the team top 16 Olympic ranking, the highest team not already qualified picked up the place. In this case it was Ukraine.
Both Poland and Russia lost to European rivals at the quarterfinal stage in Havana. They both won their first placement matches before facing each other for fifth place. Russia won 37-33 and closed the gap to Poland to just two points. Both teams remain in the top four automatic qualification places but will be looking over their shoulders at the chasing pack.
Poland lost out to Ukraine (45-36) in the quarterfinals but Ukraine then lost to Estonia (45-33). France were the team that beat Russia (40-39) in the round of 8 but they also lost their semi-final to Italy (41-40). France edged a tight bronze medal play-off against Ukraine (45-44) whilst Italy beat Estonia (33-30) in the gold medal match.
The net result was a good one for European teams. They began the day with four teams from the zone qualified. Italy’s win jumps them into the top four automatic spots whilst Estonia’s silver medal means they now hold the additional place for a European team. Ukraine retain the berth made available by no African team being in the provisional rankings. However, France’s bronze medal performance puts them within six points of Ukraine with two World Cups (Barcelona, 7-9 Feb and Suzhou 20-22 Mar) still to go.
On the individual front, Ana Maria Popescu of Romania went into the event leading the chase for the two extra European individual places. She finished with the silver medal in Havana, increasing the lead she has over her rivals. France’s Coraline Vitalis placed tenth which was enough for her to retain the second additional European individual place. However, Vitalis’s chasing teammate, Marie Florence Candassamy finished Havana with a bronze medal closing the gap to just 25 points.
With four events still to go, Olympic qualification for the women’s epeeists is far from over. We will see them next at the Doha Grand Prix, 24-26 January.