July 21, 1996

Russia and France get to the point

 ATLANTA (AP) -- French fencer Laura Flessel forgot about friendship long enough to win a gold medal Sunday.
 "At this level, it's not a friend on the strip, it's just another fencer," Flessel said after beating teammate Valerie Barlois-Mevel 15-12 in women's individual epee. "You only have an opponent to beat. After the match, it's a friend."
 Flessel never trailed in the gold medal match, even when Barlois-Mevel scored six straight points, including a double touch, after falling behind 11-4. Both fencers are competing in their first Olympics.
 "It was harder to fence a person I knew so well," Flessel said through a translator. "You knew when to attack, she knew when to attack. It was a bit of a problem."
 The gold and silver medals, the first ever awarded in women's individual epee at the Olympics, came a day after the favored French men failed to make the medals round in the same event. All three French in men's individual epee had been seeded in the top seven.
 The Russian men won their second individual fencing gold medal in two days when Stanislav Pozdnyakov defeated teammate Sergey Sharikov 15-12 in men's sabre. Aleksandr Beketov won the gold in men's individual epee Saturday.
 Because of drug testing performed after the bouts, the Russians never made it to the scheduled news conference.
 Frenchman Damien Touya won the bronze medal in men's sabre, defeating Jozsef Navarrete of Hungary 15-7. He beat countrymen Jean Daurelle in the single-elimination preliminaries.
 "I wasn't sure I would win a medal, but I'm very happy the French won medals today, and very happy to be a part of that after yesterday," Touya said.
 Peter Westbrook, 13-time U.S. sabre champion from New York, lost in the opening round of his sixth and final Olympics 15-8 to Lurane Williams of Britain.
 Thomas Strzalkowski of Richmond, Va., also lost his first-round bout, but fellow American Peter Cox Jr. of Overland Park, Kan., won once before a second-round 15-12 loss to 1994 world champion Felix Becker.
 In women's individual epee, Leslie Marks of Pittsford, N.Y., won two bouts before losing to Ko Jung-Sun of Korea 15-12. Fifty-year-old Elaine Cheris of Denver, American's oldest Olympic athlete, and Nhi Lan Le of Atlanta lost their first-round bouts.
 Gyoengyi Szalay Horvathne of Hungary won the bronze in women's epee with a 15-7 victory over Italy's Margherita Zalaffi, who lost 15-6 to Barlois-Mevel in a semifinal. Horvathne lost 15-10 to Flessel in the other semifinal.
 Sharikov reached the finals of the men's sabre with a 15-14 victory over Touya. The winning point came on a dual attack in which the referee determined Sharikov had the right of way on the double touch. The last three points of the bout were determined by the referee, the last two awarded to the winner.
 Pozdnyakov jumped ahead of Naverrete 10-2 in the other semifinal, winning easily 15-7.