The London Open 2013 (Men’s Foil)
Twenty nine British fencers and seventeen foreign fencers were seeded for the start of the competition. Seven fencers received a bye to the second wave. The rest had to fight it out in the poules and DE’s until eight fencers remained to join the second wave. The poules started with no self-refereeing. Every poule had a good standard official referee.
The first round looked tough and with the top seven fencers promoted to the second wave, the poules were closely fought. Only three fencers managed a full set of six victories. First seed was Santos (POR), second seed was Lavin (IRL) and the highest GB fencer was John Feaster with two matches going to time. Lyle Bryant was unfortunate to have a Polish fencer who forfeited his poule matches reducing his poule to six fencers. He managed the maximum five victories with one match going to time and so he was in 4th seed.
In the DEs Santos (POR) secured his place in the second wave with easy 15-3 & 15-6 victories. Lavin (IRL) had a tougher path. He overcame James Joy with a bit of a fight 15-11 and then fell victim to Macchiarola (ITA) 15-13 who was 18th seed but with this victory he secured his place in the second wave.
John Feaster was knocked out by brother Daniel who then had to fight it out hit by hit against Steve Darroux to a 15-14 victory. The other four places into the second wave were taken by seed 5 Alban Garrouste (FRA) beating Hussain Sadiq 15-11, seed 11 Alexander Tofalides, who had to overcome Lorenzo Rossi (ITA) 15-12, seed 7 Scott Brodie beating Christiaan Galesloot (NED) 15-7 and seed 9 Thibaud Bekkat (FRA) who defeated Glen Ostacchini 15-12.
The second wave was quickly dispatched with FIE referees from France on the job. This second wave was a tough affair. Only Gros (FRA) managed a full set of four victories. Samandi (who took part in the London 2012 Olympics) conceded a bout to Barth (FRA) and came in second seed. Borst (NED) came in third seed and Tofalides came 4th.
Now it was time to determine the quarter finalists who would move on to fence in the gala finals. Gros (FRA) had a bye, the rest had to win their way to the quarterfinals. Only two GBR fencers made it through a tough international line-up. Peggs beating Garrouste (FRA) 15-8 and Tofalides beating Bryant 15-7.
The fencing now moved to the Gala finals hall with all 150 spectator seats full. After presenting the fencers and the referees, the matches were on their way on all four quarterfinal pistes. On the yellow piste Gros (FRA) beat fellow Frenchman Bekkat 15-12 in a highly charged / controversial match. The two Brits clashed on the blue piste. The match between Tofalides and Peggs started slow and close. Soon, Tofalides increased the gap to win 15-9 for a place in the semi-finals. In the other half Santos (POR) had his work cut out for him against Dutch no.1 Borst (NED). But after a gruelling match he came out victorious 15-13. Then he had to face up to African champion Samandi who beat Rosowsky at the London Olympics and African Hero Alaeldin Abouelkassem (EGY) at the African Championships. Samandi (TUN) had disposed of Barth (FRA) with ease 15-5. Santos could not stop him. Samandi gets into the finals with a 15-6 victory.
The finals showdown was Samandi v Tofalides. Tofalides had the advantage of home support. This made for a great finals. With £1000 cash prize money to fight for and fantastic spectator support, both fencers were performing splendidly. Samandi being the stronger fencer, Tofalides had to work for every hit. At the start of the match the scores were close but Samandi always ahead. Soon Samandi found a gap in Tofalides’ preparation and punished him for it three times in succession. After the first break the score was 8-4 in Samandi’s favour. Samandi was simply faster and soon Tofalides found himself 11-5 down, so he threw in a few running attacks at Samandi to bring some speed and surprise. This worked for him and he scored three hits and gained another point from a red card to Samandi. Tofalides had now narrowed the gap to 11-9. But Samandi moved up a gear and dealt with the running attacks effectively. Tofalides tried but Samandi showed his world class fencing and took control of the match from then on. At the second break the score was 13-11 to Samandi. In the last period, a few strong exchanges and trading hits brought Samandi to victory 15-12.