There is a busy few days of fencing action in prospect in Europe this weekend with three International Fencing Federation (FIE) events to look forward to.
There are two sabre World Cups and a FIE épée Grand Prix all beginning on Friday with some of the top names in the sport set to compete.
The two sabre World Cup events will be held in Luxembourg and Greece, with the former due to play host to a FIE men’s sabre World Cup at the Centre National d’Escrime. Athens will be the hosts for the women’s sabre world cup event which will be held at the Greek capital’s Olympic Complex.
The Hungarian capital Budapest will be welcoming male and female athletes for the FIE épée Grand Prix which will take place at the impressive venue of the Ludovika Aréna.
With the Tokyo Olympics drawing ever closer, all three of the weekend’s events provides opportunity for fencers to sharpen their skills and build form ahead of the Summer Games.
In Luxembourg, the reigning world champion Oh Sang-uk of South Korea and Germany’s Max Hartung will be the top two seeds to beat in what looks to be a highly competitive men’s sabre event.
Among the leading contenders for success in Athens will be Russia’s Sofya Velikaya, who is currently ranked second in the world rankings behind Ukraine’s Olga Kharlan. Velikaya lost to Kharlan in the women’s sabre final at last year’s World Fencing Championships in Budapest but the former will not have her rival to overcome on this occasion with the current world number one not competing this weekend.
The individual competitions at both FIE World Cups will be held on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 March, ahead of the team events on Sunday.
In Budapest, Russia’s Sergey Bida is the men’s top seed and Romania’s Ana Maria Popescu the women’s top seed going into the épée Grand Prix. The weekend’s action in Hungary promises to be equally as enthralling with Italy’s Andrea Santarelli and home favourite and reigning world champion Gergely Siklósi expected to be Bida’s main challengers.
World number one Popescu can expect to face stiff competition, in particular from world silver medallist Lin Sheng of China and South Korea’s Choi In-jeong.
Friday will see the men’s qualification take shape ahead of the women’s qualification rounds on Saturday, with the conclusion of both events scheduled for Sunday.