TOKYO: An especially grueling training schedule paid off as South Korea beat Italy 45-26 to win the men’s team sabre fencing final on Wednesday.

It’s the South Koreans’ first gold of the Tokyo Olympics in a sport other than archery.

Top-ranked sabre fencer Oh Sanguk carved out a big lead for South Korea with a 5-0 win over Italy’s Aldo Montano in the second bout. His team-mates Gu Bongil, Kim Junghwan and Kim Junho went on to extend the advantage.

“We have very really hard training schedules,” Kim Junghwan said. “We basically sacrifice our freedom and put everything into the training and that is the reason we could make the gold.”

He hasn’t seen his wife for four months. “I got married last year and I couldn’t really enjoy my first year of married life. I had to stay away for a while. It is sad because the only way we could communicate is with video call.”

Years of “very boring” training each day paid off for China as well when Wang Zongyuan and Xie Siyi withstood pressure from the United States to make it a hat-trick of diving golds.

The teenagers led from start to finish to win a slightly chaotic men’s synchronised 3m springboard final with 467.82 points, and in doing so underline China’s supremacy in diving.

“Training is very boring,” Xie said, in unusually blunt terms for China’s often guarded athletes. “Every day we go from the dormitory to the training centre, then we go back to eat, then we go back to training, then we go back to sleep again. It’s very boring and we do it every day the same, that’s why we need each other to boost each other.”

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Japan’s double world champion judoka Chizuru Arai triumphed in the women’s -70 kg category, beating Michaela Polleres of Austria in a gruelling final and earning the host nation its sixth judo gold.

In the men’s -90 kg division, Georgian Lasha Bekauri took gold, beating Eduard Trippel of Germany in the final.

Also on Wednesday, Germany cemented their domination of equestrian dressage as Jessica von Bredow-Werndl won individual Olympic gold, ending British star Charlotte Dujardin’s nine-year reign, and her team-mate Isabell Werth took home silver.

The 35-year-old Von Bredow-Werndl posted a score of 91.732 percent after a sublime performance on TSF Dalera to add the gold to her team title on Tuesday.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2021

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