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Sabrina Massialas captures gold medal at Junior World championships

| Monday, April 11, 2016

Notre Dame saw one of its own take home a gold medal last week, as freshman foilist Sabrina Massialas won six consecutive bouts to capture the title at the FIE Junior World championships in Bourges, France.

When the competition began, Massialas drew Ana Toldo, a Brazilian who took first place in the foil at the Pan American championships in Cancun, Mexico, earlier this year. Massialas was able to control the 15-touch bout and win before time expired, 15-7.

In the round of 32, Massialas squared off with Ying Cao, a Canadian foilist who ranks in the top 50 in the FIE’s Under-20 class and top 30 in its Under-17 class. Massialas’ victory ultimately proved to be her most decisive of the tournament, as she defeated Cao by a score of 15-5.

Following her win over Cao, Massialas proceeded to duel Italy’s Elisabetta Bianchin, who was the defending Junior World champion and the No. 5 foilist in FIE’s U-20 class rankings. Despite Bianchin’s high ranking, Massialas found her way to a 15-6 victory.

Next up for the Irish freshman was the quarterfinals, where she competed against Russia’s Marta Martyanova, the No. 2 women’s foilist in FIE’s U-20 rankings. Martyanova jumped out to a commanding 11-3 lead, but Massialas was able to comeback and tie the score at 13-13 to force an overtime period. Then, with 3.9 seconds left in the extra time, Massialas landed the winning touch to give her the 14-13 win.

Massialas found herself in an almost identically-tight, overtime bout in the semifinals. Just as in the previous round, she and China’s Yiting Fu went into the extra period tied at 13-13. Once again, Massialas landed the deciding touch to give her another 14-13 victory and push her into the championship.

The finals pitted the ACC champion against the FIE’s top-ranked U-20 foilist, Italy’s Erica Cipressa. The reigning European U-20 championships winner defeated Poland’s Martyna Dlugosz in her semifinal bout to advance to the finals. Despite having to go to overtime in her previous two bouts, Massialas was able to remain strong and defeat Cipressa in regulation, 15-9, to capture the gold medal.

The San Francisco native’s title came just one week after she finished in third place in the women’s foil at the NCAA championships, earning her first-team All-American honors. She subsequently rounded out her strong freshman campaign by being named the ACC Women’s Fencer of the Year in foil March 31.

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