Olympics-Fencing-France and ROC to face off for men's team foil gold


Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Fencing - Men's Team Foil - Semifinal - Makuhari Messe Hall B - Chiba, Japan - August 1, 2021. Erwann Le Pechoux of France in action against Kyosuke Matsuyama of Japan REUTERS/Molly Darlington

CHIBA, Japan (Reuters) - France will face the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) for the finals of the men's team foil competition after they beat their semi-final opponents by the skin of their teeth.

France beat a feisty Japan, which fresh out of a surprise victory against third-ranked Italy in the quarter-finals refused to concede an easy win.

The final bout started with Japan down by eight points at 40-32, but Kyosuke Matsuyama won ten points in quick succession.

But France's Erwann le Pechoux held his ground, taking the final point and finishing the match at 45-42, prompting team mate Enzo Lefort to run onto the piste and give him a bear hug.

"It was like a rollercoaster. It was down, then up, but at the end, this man at my right (le Pechoux) - he can fence under pressure (and) he managed to put the last one - that's everything we ask of him," Lefort told Reuters.

France will be vying with ROC for the gold medal.

If France wins gold, it will be the eighth for the country in the men's team foil event.

"The ROC team - we don't know them. It's a young team, we never fenced them, so we'll see, we'll manage on the piste," Lefort said.

The ROC team, which fought neck to neck against the top-ranked United States team and got away with a 45-41 victory, consists mainly of young fencers for whom Tokyo 2020 is the first Olympics.

The Russians are defending the gold medal they won in Rio 2016, but with a team consisting mainly of under 21s - including a pair of twins. Only alternate Timur Safin was part of the previous gold winning team.

In the previous Rio 2016 Olympics, France had claimed silver and the United States took bronze.

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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