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Olympic spot in the balance as Estonian women's épée team lose to China

Kristina Kuusk.
Kristina Kuusk. Source: Karli Saul/EOK

The Estonian women's épée team lost to China in the second round of the 2024 Fencing World Cup in Barcelona, finishing ninth overall. The Estonian team's Olympic hopes remain in the balance, with direct rivals Ukraine also failing to cement qualification for this summer's games in Paris.

The Estonian team of Nelli Differt, Kristina Kuusk, Irina Embrich and Julia Beljajeva made a winning start to the tournament, defeating Austria 45:24 in the first round. The Estonians won eight of their nine mini-matches, while Differt also drew 7:7 against Elisabeth Pinggera.

In round two, Estonia faced China, and soon found themselves trailing 1:6 after the first two mini-matches. While Nelli Differt won the third mini-match 2:1, the Chinese team kept increasing the gap and led 19:11 going into the seventh mini-match.

Differt and Embrich then brought Estonia to within five points, but Beljajeva, who took a lot of risks in the final encounter, was left with too much to do. In the end, the Estonian foursome fell to a 26:38 defeat and were eliminated from the top eight.

As a result, Estonia entered the sub-tournament to determine who finished in 9th-16th places. They first defeated Spain 41:34 before overcoming their direct rivals for a spot in the Paris summer Olympics, Ukraine 45:36. In a match to decide ninth place, Estonia then beat Hong Kong 37:31. Ukraine ultimately finished 12th.

In the race for the Paris Olympics, Estonia currently has 218 points, while Ukraine has 250. In a nutshell, Estonia now has to win at the final World Cup event before the Olympics, which takes place in Nanjing, China next month to book their spot in Paris.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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