Olympic Qualification – Vancouver Men’s Epee Update
Qualification for the men’s epee events at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games continued at the weekend in Vancouver, Canada.
European teams occupied the top four automatic qualification going into the event, namely France, Switzerland, Italy and Ukraine. Meanwhile, Hungary led the race over Russia for the additional European place.
Italy finished in second place in Vancouver losing in the final to Korea (39-24) but the result is enough to confirm their qualification for Tokyo 2020. France lost to Italy (45-39) in the semi-finals and then to Japan (45-34) in the bronze medal match. However, France’s lead is so great that they have also guaranteed that they will have a team at the Olympics.
Italy also knocked out Ukraine (38-35) in the quarterfinals but a sixth-place finish for the Ukrainians was enough for them to stay inside the top four. Switzerland lost out in the round of 16 to Spain (45-40) and whilst they stay inside the top four the gap to the chasing pack has closed significantly.
Hungary also lost in the round of 16 to the USA (45-41) whilst Russia made the top eight before losing to Japan (36-35). Russia battled to fifth place beating Ukraine 45-28 in the play-off. Despite these results Hungary still hold the European team qualification place but Russia are now just 3 points behind.
With one more team qualifier to go, the Buenos Aires World Cup (20-22 March) there is still a lot to play for. The European teams in contention will have one eye on their results but both Korea’s and Egypt’s results could have an effect. A good result for Korea could put them into the top four knocking out one of Switzerland or Ukraine. Meanwhile, Egypt will be looking to get a result that keeps them in the top 16. If they don’t then they release an extra team place. This discipline will go down to the wire!
Russia’s Sergey Bida and Bas Verwijlen of the Netherlands went to Vancouver holding the two additional individual European places and the pair met in the final in Canada. Verwijlen took the title so the two men remain provisionally qualified. However, team results in Buenos Aires could mean that Gergely Siklosi (HUN) and Igor Reizlin (UKR) come into play if their countries drop out of team qualification. This means that all the European contenders will be keen to get good individual results at the next event, the Budapest Grand Prix (6-8 March).