Russia’s Sergey Bida and Romania’s Ana Maria Popescu scored gold medals in men’s and women’s individual epee at the 2020 Doha Epee Grand Prix in Qatar.
Bida was a convincing winner over France’s Alexandre Bardenet in the men’s competition whilst Popescu was in equally fine form and accounted for Italian world champion Mara Navarria in the women’s event.
The weekend’s event at Doha’s Aspire Dome was the second International Fencing Federation (FIE) Grand Prix of the 2019-2020 season’s nine-event series, all of which leads up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. It featured a strong field made up of 219 male and 176 female international fencers competing for medals and valuable Olympic qualification points.
In the men’s competition, Bida lived up to his billing as top seed by winning gold and with some ease. The Russian enjoyed a relatively comfortable journey to the title, with his only close encounter coming in a 13-12 victory over Vitalii Medvediev of Ukraine in the round of 16. He then defeated Daniel Jerent of France 15-11 in the quarter-finals, before easing past Masaru Yamada of Japan 15-10 to reach the gold medal match.
Bida then recorded a comfortable and stylish 15-6 win over Bardenet of France to top the podium, to continue his run of good form which saw the 26-year-old claim a world silver medal last year. Bardenet had beaten Italy’s Andrea Santarelli in the semi-final, 15-10, to earn a shot at the gold medal but his Russian counterpart proved too strong.
Two of the more surprising results of the competition saw Korean Olympic champion Sangyoung Park bow out at the last 16 stage to France’s Daniel Jerent, 15-10, along with French world champion Yannick Borel who lost in the same round to Yamada, 15-9.
The women’s competition also saw a dominant winner of the gold medal as Romania’s veteran fencer Popescu claimed victory in the final of the women’s individual epee, beating Navarria, 15-9.
She first got past Jung Hyo-jung of South Korea 15-6, before going on to narrowly beat Katharine Holmes of the United States 10-9. In the semi-final, the Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medallist came up against Tatyana Andryushina of Russia and delivered her a crushing defeat 15-5.
For her part, Navarria defeated Estonian Erika Kirpu in the semi-final, 15-13, this having negotiated her way past Russian world champion Tatiana Gudkova in the round of 16, 15-10.
The major surprise of the women’s competition came when top seed, Lin Sheng of China suffered defeat as early as the round of 64 stage, losing 15-11 to Erika Kirpu of Estonia.