The Estonian women's épée team of Irina Embrich, Nelli Differt, Julia Beljajev and Kristina Kuusk took gold at this weekend's 2023 Fencing World Cup in Vancouver, Canada. The win also means the Estonian team remain in a strong position to earn a spot at next year's Summer Olympics in Paris.
The Estonian team began the Vancouver World Cup with a solid 45-21 win over Australia, before going on to record three narrow victories in a row. First they defeated Hong Kong 38-37 after being five points behind at one stage, then Poland 29-28. In the semi-finals, Estonia overcame South Korea, once again by the narrowest of margins, 43-42.
In the final, they beat the U.S.A. 36-32 to take the gold medal.
Around two-thirds of the places at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris are awarded on the basis of points accrued in the International Fencing Federation's (FIE) official rankings. The Estonian teams victory in Canada means they have now narrowed the gap between themselves and the other top European teams. Italy finished fifth in Vancouver, Hungary were sixth, France seventh and Poland eighth.
Estonia are now in seventh place in the FIE rankings, meaning they are currently the fifth best team in Europe. With only the top four in the continent guaranteed and Olympic spot, Estonia's main rivals are currently Ukraine, who are ranked fourth best in Europe and fifth in the world. They reached the semi-finals in Vancouver.
The women's épée team still has the chance to gain enough points for Olympic qualification when they compete at the World Cup events in Barcelona next February and in Nanjing, China in March.
Editor: Michael Cole