The 36 year old Italian Luigi Tarrantino continues his improbable run back to the top of men’s saber as he astounds the fencing world knocking off younger challengers time and again. In the semi-finals of the Trofeo Luxardo, one of the most prestigous saber world cups, Tarrantino defeated Dumitrescu, 25, 15-13. Dumitrescu was coming off back-to-back world cup wins before running into Tarrantino who snaped his streak. In the finals he dominated Limbach, 23, 15-6 for the Gold.
It was only a few years ago that Luigi Tarrantino looked like a fencer heading for retirement. Having dropped to 45th in the world during the 2006-2007 season. It looked like he might not even qualify for the Bejing Games.
What happened next no one could have predicted (except maybe Tarrantino himself) as he went on a tear to finish the 2007-2008 season once again atop the world rankings as it’s #1 and helped Italy capture the Bronze Team Medal in Beijing.
On the US front, Tim Morehouse finished 17th and Ben Igoe finished 21st to pace the US contingent of 8 fencers which included Jason Rogers, James Williams, Luther Clement,Mike Etropolski, Jeff Spear and Daryl Homer. The rest of the team had a bit of a rough competition as no one else qualified for the 2nd day. There is one competition left in Dallas and the final 2 national team spots are up for grabs between Jason Rogers, Daryl Homer and James Williams.
Team event is tomorrow. USA v Spain in Round of 16. Ben Igoe, Tim Morehuse, James Williams and Daryl Homer will be competing for the US.
It was kind of cool to see a fencing event held in a huge theater with spectators and all the trimmings. Also, to see that a fencing federation knows how to maximize their fencing community and exposure to get sponsors. (As evidenced below) We can do this in the USA!
It turns out that it is not only the US Fencers that are having trouble making fencing relevant. The Italian fencing team brought back two individual gold, two individual bronze and three team bronze medals from Beijing, and yet, they are still having difficulty keeping themselves in the public spotlight more permanently than the “15 minutes” that follow the Olympic Games.
A few standouts such as Valentina Vezzali and Margherita Granbassi have crossed over into the mainstream media (on Italy’s equivalent of dancing with the stars and a political talk show respectively), however the rest seem to be having trouble keeping up with these two.
In Europe, especially coutries like France, Italy and Germany, fencing’s popularity far exceeds that of any other sport focused coutries around the world. However, it seems that the greatest impediment to fencing’s popularity is still the issue of explaining the sport to the layperson.
So what’s a fencer think if even the Italians, those with the bluest fencing blood, are struggling? It seems that fencing is at a great crossroads. That is, if fencing wants to grow, it needs to make itself more spectator friendly. Though it has tried this in the past with efforts such as electric scoring, transparent visor masks and timing changes on the scoring machines, it still remains nearly as esoteric as it was 100 years ago to the average person looking on for the first time. Is there any way that we can simplify fencing to something as easy as “put the ball in the hoop” or “spike the ball over the net”? Is it possible that fencing needs to reduce all three weapons to systems that more resemble that of epee (i.e. “hit and don’t be hit”)? I don’t know what the answer is, but it is certainly food for thought. I welcome your comments and suggestions…
Congratulations to Ben Igoe on his 3rd place finish at the Budapest Men’s Saber Grand Prix!
Traditionally, this is one of the hardest world cups of the season, but Ben made it look easy slicing his way through some of the top fencers in the world including #1 ranked Luigi Tarrantino of Italy and 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist Zsolt Nemscik of Hungary in achieving the highest result of his career.
Using an extremely effective counter-attack along with a lunge that surprissed many opponents with it’s length he made it look easy for most of the day until running into Dumetrescu of Romania.
To top it off, he fenced great in the team event the next day helping the USA to finish in 6th place. The team event included victories over Spain and Russia (Only the 3rd time we have beaten them in history)
Results (130 competitors)
1 Dumitrescu (Romania)
2 Lopez (France)
3 Ben Igoe (USA) and Zalomir (Romania)
29 James Williams (USA)
36 Tim Morehouse (USA)
39 Jason Rogers (USA)
Team (18 teams)
6 USA (James Williams, Jason Rogers, Ben Igoe, Tim Morehouse)
News and Notes
* Dating back to the Thailand world cup in May 2008, at least one USA fencer has reached the top-8 in 7 straight international events and 9 of the past 11.
* Also competing for the USA were Luther Clement, Konate Primus and Mike Etropolski
* Saber World Champion Felix Becker of Germany was coaching the Canadian team
* Newly retired 2000 Olympic Champion Mihai Covaliu was there as a coach for Romania
* Dmitry Guy traveled with the USA team as a coach
* In the team event: Hungary fenced without Nemscik using Junior Iliasz and France fenced without Lopez using Apithy.
* Just announced: Algeria is postponed (it was scheduled during their elections) and the Thailand World Cup is cancelled