Sabre-rattling Russians: Sofia Pozdniakova clinches gold in all-Russian Tokyo Olympics fencing final against Sofya Velikaya
Double world and European champion Sofia Pozdniakova has won the all-Russian women’s individual fencing final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, handing Sofya Velikaya a third successive defeat in the final with a 15-11 win in Tokyo.
The clash between the compatriots guaranteed the Russian team – competing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) due to a doping-related ban – their second gold of the Games.
Pozdniakova, who is the daughter of Stanislav Pozdnyakov, a four-time Olympic fencing champion and the current head of the Russian Olympic team, handed her more experienced opponent a third successive defeat in the final to add to the world and European doubles she claimed in both 2018 and 2019.
Known as ‘Sofya the Great’ because of the meaning of her surname in Russia, unfortunate fencing legend Velikaya lost to Kim Ji Young in the final in London in 2012 and – by a single point – to Russian Yana Egorian in Rio five years ago.
At 36, eight-time world champion Velikaya is 12 years Pozdniakova’s senior. She won gold in the team event at the Rio Games in 2016, as well as two silver medals at two previous Olympic Games.
In addition to three Olympic silver medals, she won gold in the command saber in 2016.
The Kazakh-born star announced her comeback in 2017 following maternity leave and was the flag-bearer at the opening ceremony.
“We congratulate both of our girls,” said Dmitry Svishchev, a member of the State Duma Committee on Physical Culture, Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs, praising the quality of the final to Championat.
“Of course, one athlete is disappointed and the other, on the contrary, is pleased. But still it is worth acknowledging that this is a triumph for Russian fencing.
“Congratulations to the federation, the girls, the ROC team and all the Russians. We will remember this moment for a long time.”
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