June 23 (Reuters) - Five fencers to watch out for at the Tokyo Olympics:
C.A. BHAVANI DEVI (INDIA)
Bhavani Devi, who will compete in the sabre, will be the first Indian fencer to represent her country at the Olympic Games. She was once close to giving up the sport because of the financial burden it put on her family but has since been supported by grants and is currently training under the tutelage of Italian coach Nicola Zanotti.
INES BOUBAKRI (TUNISIA)
Boubakri made history at the Rio 2016 Olympics by winning a bronze medal in the foil competition – becoming the first African woman to earn a medal in fencing. However, the memory is bittersweet for her as she missed out on fighting for gold after sustaining a back injury during the semi-finals. She won her bronze medal by staging a comeback after being down 6-2, fighting through the pain from her injury.
She will be competing at her fourth Olympics.
OH SANG-UK (SOUTH KOREA)
South Korea’s Oh is a five-time world champion in sabre fencing and a favourite for gold in Tokyo. The 24-year-old is nicknamed the “monster” as he towers over other athletes, standing 1.92m tall.
Oh tested positive for COVID-19 after winning the championship at the Sabre World Cup in Budapest in March. He was hospitalised with mild symptoms for a month before being released in April.
DANIELE GAROZZO (ITALY)
Garozzo is the reigning Olympic champion in the men’s foil competition. He won a surprise gold medal at Rio despite being ranked 11th in the world, beating out top-ranked U.S. fencer Alexander Massialas.
He is currently conducting medical studies to become a doctor – something he has prioritised during the COVID lockdown.
Garozzo’s Rio gold medal was stolen from his backpack when he fell asleep on a train in Italy. In a bizarre turn of events, the medal was discovered in a rubbish bin outside a train station by a woman who contacted Garozzo via social media to return it.
RACE IMBODEN (UNITED STATES)
Two-time Olympian foil fencer Imboden is not shy about voicing his political opinions. He was put on probation by the U.S. Olympic Committee for kneeling in protest against racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants, and the rhetoric of then U.S. President Donald Trump at the podium of the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru after winning a gold medal. (Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Peter Rutherford )