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(2nd LD) (Olympics) S. Korea wins bronze in women's sabre team fencing

All News 22:07 July 31, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS comments in last 6 paras, photo)

CHIBA, Japan, July 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea claimed bronze in the women's sabre team fencing event on Saturday for its fourth medal from the sport at the Tokyo Olympics.

The team of Kim Ji-yeon, Yoon Ji-su Choi Soo-yeon and Seo Ji-yeon defeated Italy 45-42 in the bronze medal match at Makuhari Messe Hall B in Chiba, east of Tokyo. South Korea rallied from a 25-15 deficit for the dramatic win.

This is South Korea's first medal in the women's sabre team event, which made its Olympic debut in 2008.

This concludes South Korea's fencing campaign at these Olympic Games. South Korea won't have a team in the men's foil team event scheduled for Sunday.

The men's sabre team won gold on Wednesday, a day after the women's epee team won silver. The male sabre fencer Kim Jung-hwan won an individual bronze medal last Saturday.

South Korea had a gold and a bronze at the 2016 Olympics.

South Korean fencers Kim Ji-yeon, Yoon Ji-su, Choi Soo-yeon and Seo Ji-yeon (L to R) celebrate their victory over Italy in the bronze medal match of the women's sabre team fencing event at the Tokyo Olympics at Makuhari Messe Hall B in Chiba, Japan, on July 31, 2021. (Yonhap)

A team match is made up of nine individual bouts fought by three fencers. Each member of a team faces each member of the other team once, and teams can use a substitute.

A head-to-head bout is three minutes long, but it ends when one team's score reaches a multiple of five.

The goal is to get to 45 points first or to have more points than the opposition by the end of the ninth bout.

South Korea stayed close through the first three bouts but went down 20-14 after Irene Vecchi beat Seo 5-1 in the fourth bout.

In this Reuters photo, Yoon Ji-su of South Korea celebrates a point against Rossella Gregorio of Italy during the bronze medal match of the women's sabre team fencing event at the Tokyo Olympics at Makuhari Messe Hall B in Chiba, Japan, on July 31, 2021. (Yonhap)

Italy extended its lead to 25-15 thanks to Michela Battiston's 5-1 win over Kim in the fifth bout.

Yoon made the match more interesting by outscoring Rossella Gregorio 11-5 in the next bout, and the overall score was now 30-26 for Italy.

Seo then gave South Korea a 35-33 lead by winning her bout against Battiston 9-3.

South Korean fencers Kim Ji-yeon, Yoon Ji-su, Choi Soo-yeon and Seo Ji-yeon (L to R) celebrate their victory over Italy in the bronze medal match of the women's sabre team fencing event at the Tokyo Olympics at Makuhari Messe Hall B in Chiba, Japan, on July 31, 2021. (Yonhap)

South Korea nursed a 40-38 lead going into the final bout. Kim, the 2012 individual sabre gold medalist, got the last five points that South Korea needed for the bronze.

The improbable victory ensured that South Korea will go home with a medal in every team event in which it participated: the men's and women's sabre and the men's and women's epee.

Kim Ji-yeon of South Korea celebrates the team's victory over Italy in the bronze medal match of the women's sabre team fencing event at the Tokyo Olympics at Makuhari Messe Hall B in Chiba, Japan, on July 31, 2021. (Yonhap)

Kim, who won the women's individual sabre in the 2012 Olympics, said she was so happy to stand on the podium as a team member at her last Olympics. The 28-year old fencer earlier said she would retire after Tokyo.

"We were so desperate to win an Olympic medal. This is so big for us," said Kim, who was suffering from an Achilles tendon injury in the run-up to the Olympics. "It was hard to overcome the injury, but I could come to this stage just because of my last Olympic challenge."

Yoon and Seo, who led the come-from-behind victory in the sixth and seventh round, said they are happy to be the first Olympic medalists in the women's sabre team event.

"I could die happy right now," said Seo, who competed in the bronze medal-decider as a substitute because of Choi's shoulder injury. "I'm so pleased that my yearslong efforts were rewarded."

Yoon, who participated in the Rio Olympics as an alternate, said she hopes this medal will pave the way for the Korean sabre team to rise higher in the next Olympics.

Choi, who was benched due to the injury, thanked her teammates, saying "I trusted them. I believed that they would make a good result."

South Korean fencers Choi Soo-yeon, Kim Ji-yeon, Seo Ji-yeon and Yoon Ji-su (L to R) pose for a photo on the podium after winning the bronze medal in the women's sabre team fencing event at the Tokyo Olympics at Makuhari Messe Hall B in Chiba, Japan, on July 31, 2021. (Yonhap)

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