A bright new page was turned in Estonian sports history on Thursday night, as one commentator put it.
Epee fencer Nikolai Novosjolov said he had trouble breathing when he gave a victory cry upon winning his second individual world champion title. But the surprise was the gold medal won by Julia Beljajeva, who, at age 21, lacks the experience of the 32-year-old Novosjolov.
"Beljajeva took on the world,” Kaido Kaaberma, head coach of Estonia's women's team, told sport.err.ee after the medal ceremony.
"We did a clean job. Two golds is a very big achievement for little Estonia. The arena was full of Hungarians and Russians, but we gave [the Estonian fencers] all of our support and it paid off."
Speaking to Postimees, Kaaberma said: "She has quietly done her thing, as the third-fourth ranked fencer [in Estonia], an essential member of the women's team, but she did not shine individually. She worked gradually, developed and didn't give up. She waited for her moment. By the way, she is irrefutably a fighter on the fencing strip. She has a big spirit and given she has the will, she won't fear the devil himself.”
The teary-eyed Beljajeva shook her head in disbelief after the victory. Still after the awards ceremony and doping test, she said she couldn't believe her achievement, speaking to Postimees.
"I don't know what to say. I still don't understand that I am a world champion. Not yet. There is too much emotion […] I hadn't won a single medal in the junior's individual class. I was fourth in the Estonian rankings,” Beljejeva said.
She continued: "I was stronger than [my competitors] today. But the gold didn't come easily. Every match was extremely tense. I was able to keep a cool head. I hammered away in my thoughts that I would not make any blunders and stick with the planned tactics. To lead others into making mistakes, not to make mistakes myself.”
Meanwhile Novosjolov's final was equally surprising, for the ease with which he defeated London Olympics gold medalist Ruben Limardo of Venezuela.
Coach Igor Tšikinjov said: "The first medal is difficult to win, but the subsequent ones are doubly difficult - you are taken into account, you are studied, and defeating you is a matter of honor. Novosjolov proved to others and foremost to himself that he continues to be among the most exclusive part of the world's finest."
"The Olympics last year went amiss and this year's European Champions also fell through. Now, the timing of his form was just right. Novosjolov has continued to be strong physically, and now we sharpened him mentally, which gave him confidence. Tactically Novosjolov fenced brilliantly - mistakes were made, but he managed to patch them up. He didn't let anyone force him out, he controlled the match, held onto the agreed line and was always a step ahead of the opponent.”