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Japan wins men's fencing epee team gold at Tokyo Games

Japan's Masaru Yamada, right, wins a point in the men's epee team gold medal match at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, on July 30, 2021, at Makuhari Messe Hall B in Chiba Prefecture. (Mainichi/Toshiki Miyama)

CHIBA, Japan (Kyodo) -- Japan won its first Olympic fencing gold medal and set a record with 17 gold medals at a single Olympics by winning the Tokyo Games men's team epee competition on Friday.

    The Japanese trio of Masaru Yamada, Koki Kano and Satoru Uyama defeated the Russian Olympic Committee team 45-36 as Japan surpassed its record gold medal haul of 16 set in the 1964 Tokyo Games and equaled in Athens in 2004.

    Host Japan, seeded eighth, opened by defeating the United States 45-39, and then downed top-seeded France 45-44. Japan then took down South Korea 45-38 in the semifinals at Makuhari Messe Hall in Chiba, east of Tokyo.

    Yamada, the reigning Asian champion, opened for Japan with a 5-4 win over Sergey Bida, and won his second bout 4-3 over Nikita Glazkov to give Japan a 17-14, three-touch lead.

    "I failed to show what I'm capable of in the individual competition," Yamada said. "I was down, but my teammates helped pick me up."

    Uyama, who lost his first match-up 6-5, bounced back to extend Japan's lead to 25-20 with an 8-6 win over Bida.

    "It hasn't begun to sink in yet. There was some concern about how well I can execute, but I wasn't nervous," said the 29-year-old Uyama, the oldest of Japan's three fencers in the final. "That I appeared to be vexing my opponents up to that point confirmed that what I was doing worked. So I stuck with that approach in the final."

    Kano, the team's youngster at 23, said the competition was an affirmation for him as well.

    "I wasn't particularly nervous," he said. "I had an understanding that I could compete at this (world) level, but that sense transformed into conviction."

    Russian Pavel Sukhov proved the most difficult opponent, winning all three of his bouts. He beat Yamada 4-3 in the penultimate round before Kano sealed the gold medal with an 8-3 win over Bida.

    Japan's previous two fencing medals were both silvers, a men's individual foil in 2008 and a men's team foil in 2012.

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