CHIBA, Japan (AP) — Aron Szilagyi carved out a little bit of Olympic history for himself on Saturday.
The Hungarian became the first Olympic fencer to win three individual sabre gold medals after beating Luigi Samele 15-7 in the men’s final at the Tokyo Games.
“I can’t even tell you my feelings, but I am pretty much overwhelmed,” Szilagyi said. “The semifinal for me was really hard. My opponent can be really very good. I had to focus well in that match to get to this one. In the final I arrived in the best shape possible. I was able to dominate and everything was in the right place.”
Szilagyi used his fast reflexes to build an early 7-1 lead and held off a brief comeback from his Italian opponent before closing out the victory.
Szilagyi won gold at the 2012 London Games and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. His only loss in the individual tournament at the Olympics came in the third round in 2008. No other male fencer has won any individual event three times.
Samele reached the final after a remarkable win in the semifinals. He came back from 12-6 down to beat Kim Junghwan of South Korea 15-12.
Kim took bronze with a 15-11 win over Sandro Bazadze of Georgia.
Experience, however, wasn't enough for five-time Olympian Ana Maria Popescu of Romania to win an elusive first gold medal in individual épée. She lost in overtime to Sun Yiwen of China 11-10.
Popescu, who leads the world rankings, leveled the score at 10-10 with three seconds remaining to go to overtime but Sun soon scored the winning point in the deciding period for China's third gold of the day.
Sun completed her set of Olympic medals after winning individual bronze and team silver at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. Popescu has yet to win an individual gold medal at any of her five Olympic appearances despite often being among the favorites. She won team gold in 2016.
Katrina Lehis of Estonia took the bronze by beating Russian fencer Aizanat Murtazaeva 15-8. Lehis was trailing 4-3 in the second period before winning the next five points to take a lead she never gave up against Murtazaeva, who was the lowest ranked fencer in the bracket at 258th.
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