The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) showed their dominance over the discipline by taking home a Gold medal in the Women’s Team Saber event, which results in them taking home 2 Golds and 50% of all Women’s Saber medals awarded for the entire Games. The extremely heavily favored ROC defeated France tonight by a score of 45-41 in a back-and-forth match that had France in an early lead, but an 11-point rally by Olga Nikitina put the ROC back in the lead, which they held onto the remainder of the match.
For the ROC, comprised of Sofya Velikaya, Sofia Pozdniakova, Olga Nikitina, and alternate Svetlana Sheveleva, this result was predicted by the Gold and Silver wins in the individual event for Podzniakova and Velikaya, respectively. The current reigning Olympic champions had a fairly easy path to the final, with +11 and +19 victories in the 8 and 4 rounds, respectively. There were no bouts where they were ever behind in score other than the final. The ROC opted to not sub inSheveleva.
France, comprised of Manon Brunet, Cecilia Berder, Charlotte Lembach, and subbed-in alternate Sara Balzer, managed to secure the first ever Women’s Saber Team medal for their country. Lead by the Bronze medal performance in the individuals of Manon Brunet, the consistently internationally strong French team hasn’t quite made it to the podium during Olympic years. Additionally, the Women’s Saber Team event has only been held 2 other times in the past, having been introduced for the first time in Beijing 2008 and rotated out of contention for the Games in London 2012.
In the Bronze medal match, South Korea defeated Italy 45-42. South Korea made a similar rally in their match, where Yoon Jisu managed an 11 point bout, followed by Seo Jiyeon with an 9 point bout to put South Korea in the lead, which they held onto through the end. South Korea lost a very decisive match against ROC in the semi-finals 26-45 to enter the Bronze medal round.
Italy lost a very interesting bout in the semi-final round to France – at one point they were behind 16 touches, but a freshly subbed in Michela Battiston managed to make it a competitive match with an 18 point single bout rally, making the score a more manageable 32-35 but was unable to take the lead. The rest of the team was unable to capitalize on the opportunity, ultimately losing the match 39-45.
For Team USA – Mariel Zagunis, Anne-Elizabeth Stone, Dagmara Wozniak and alternate Francesca Russo – the day was flat, having seeded 6th and finished 6th. USA decisively lost a bout against France 30-45 in the round of 8, strongly defeated China 45-35 in the 5-8 placements, and barely lost to Japan 43-45 in the 5-6 match. Russo was subbed in on the final match against Japan in order to secure the Olympian status. This is the first time in the history of the Women’s Saber Team event that Team USA wasn’t on the podium.