photo courtesy
Ukrainian phenom Olga Kharlan entered the history books by scoring the winning touch and earning the first gold medal awarded at the Olympics for women’s team sabre. In front of an enthusiastic crowd, Kharlan, Olga Zhovnir and Olena Khormova fought back from an early deficit and defeated China’s Tan Xue, Ni Hong, and Bao Yingying 45-44.

The match started out in China’s favor as Tan set the tone with a 5-1 victory over Khomrova. Ni added to the score as Kharlan only managed one touch as their bout ended 10-2 for China. China would continue to extend the lead as Tan went up 5-1 in the 5th bout to give China a 10 point lead.

{sidebar id=1}What looked to be an insurmountable lead was another challenge for Kharlan. Kharlan stormed into her 6th bout, against Bao, and scored 8 unanswered points before Bao could earn a touch. Kharlan cut the 10 point deficit to only 3 with a 12-5 thrashing, but China still let 30-27.

Ni would blank Zhovnir with a 5-0 match to put China up 8, 35-27 and hand the challenge back to the Ukrainians. This time it was Khomrova who took up the challenge and outscored Bao 9-5 to cut the deficit in half and enter the last bout of the match with a 40-36 score in China’s favor.

In the final bout, Tan struck first, but then Kharlan responded. At the fifth straight touch she tied the match at 41 all, then give the Ukraine thier first lead of the evening at 42-41. Tan would take the next point to tie it and then Kharlan responded to keep the Ukraine ahead 43-42.

Tan then scored the next two touches to put China one touch away from a gold medal. The score was 44-43, but Kharlan scored the next point to tie it up, match point, 44-all.

As the referee called "Allez" both fencers attack, and each teams fans let out deafening cries of victory. The referee immediately checks the replay monitor and calls it simultaneous, no touch. The fencers reset but this time Kharlan pulls the distance and Tan falls short. Kharlan then lands her attack and wins her and her teammates the gold medal.