Iran eyeing Olympic success after Sabre World Cup bronze

Iran will be looking to secure an Olympic berth and succeed at next year’s Games in Paris after an impressive run at the Men’s Sabre World Cup in Madrid, said Alireza Pour-Salman, the chairman of the country’s Fencing Federation.
On Sunday, the Iranian three-man team – comprising Mohammad Rahbari, Mohammad Fotouhi, and Ali Pakdaman – defeated Italy 45-37 to leave the Spanish capital with the team bronze.
The tournament – featuring 237 fencers and 29 teams – served as a qualification event for the 2024 Olympics.
Pour-Salman said Iran was unlucky not to square off against European powerhouse Hungary in the final showdown, following a 45-24 setback against USA.
“The Americans escaped from us in the semifinals. The team only had 15 minutes of rest after the win against Georgia in the quarterfinals, not to mention our game against Canada in the previous round had been delayed due to a technical issue. That is why the physical burden of the last-four contest was too much for us,” Pour-Salman told ISNA.
Iran came out on top against Chile and Canada and then edged Georgia 45-44 for a place in the last four.
Pakdaman, meanwhile, stunned the world fencing by defeating three-time Olympic gold medalist Aron Szilagyi of Hungary, before suffering a 15-14 loss to Italian Riccardo Nuccio in the men’s individual quarterfinals.
Hungary beat USA 45-42 for the team gold, with Georgia’s Sandro Bazadze walking away with the ultimate prize of the individual contests, thanks to a 15-6 triumph against Nuccio.
“It was a tough tournament as all countries sent their full-strength squads to Madrid. Even Hungary labored to victory over Japan, but I still believe our team did a great job,” said the head of the Iranian fencing body, adding: “We collected decent Olympic qualification points but still have a long way ahead of us before sealing the quota for the Games.”
Next for the Iranian fencers is the Asian Championships in Wuxi, China, in June before the FIE Fencing World Championships gets underway in Milan on July 22.
“I hope we could emulate the recent success in the upcoming Asian and world events to pave the way for a place in Paris. Those tournaments, though, will also be demanding as you could see teams like China, Japan, and Uzbekistan have really improved in the continent,” said Pour-Salman.
“The Iranian team took the first step firmly but every match and every tournament will be a whole different challenge and the pressure will continue until we book the Olympics ticket and, hopefully, win a medal in Paris.


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