Egorian prevails in all-Russian final

It was the first all-Russian Olympic fencing final in 20 years.

Yana Egorian is all smiles after receiving the fencing women's individual sabre gold.   -  Reuters

Russian fencer Yana Egorian beat top-ranked team-mate Sofya Velikaya in a close-fought sabre final at the Rio Olympics on Monday, with London 2012 bronze medallist Olga Kharlan of Ukraine again on the third step of the podium.

It was a disappointing day for U.S. fencing, however, with Athens and Beijing champion Mariel Zagunis and Ibtihaj Muhammad both losing their second bouts.

Egorian scored her fourth win in a year over Velikaya to pick up the gold medal in a final so tense and quiet that a baby could be heard crying in the stands.

“It was the most difficult fight because Sofya has as much right to this medal as I do,” said Egorian, who shared a long hug with her smiling compatriot just moments after their bout.

It was the first all-Russian Olympic fencing final in 20 years.

The highly touted Americans were out before the quarter-finals. Both took over an hour to compose themselves before facing reporters having left the piste overwhelmed with emotion.

Muhammad, an African-American Muslim who became the first U.S. Olympian to compete in a hijab, admitted frustration with her early exit but pride in making history.

Kharlan beat Manon Brunet to the bronze medal, extending France's wait for a return to the podium. The traditional fencing powerhouse came away from London empty-handed for the first time since 1960.

They will hope to address that on Tuesday in the individual epee. France has three of the world's top six epee fencers competing in Rio, including top-ranked Gauthier Grumier.