Lesser-known fencers from Italy, France and Russia will fight for the medals in the men's individual foil at Crystal Hall on Thursday evening, after the top seeds dropped one after the other.
Italian youngster Francesco Ingargiola and teammate Alessio Foconi advanced to the first semi-final at 18:15 Baku time, while Russia's Timur Arslanov will face Frenchman Jean-Paul Tony Helissey in the second semi at 18:35.
Ingargiola showed strong nerves on his way to the semis, beating more experienced competitors along the way. “It’s beautiful to represent my country here and bring home a medal, whatever colour it will be”, the 18-year-old said.
The losers of both semi-finals will receive bronze medals, but Italy will have one fencer in the final for sure - Ingargiola's opponent is Foconi, the no.4 seed. Foconi used his experience earlier in the competition in ousting teammate and world junior champion Damiano Rosatelli.
"I will make a huge effort to get into the final. I don’t want to think that I’ve already secured a bronze medal, because I want the gold," Foconi said.
Tony Helissey became the bugbear for the Russian fencers, first defeating the no.2 seed Timur Safin and then Dmitry Zherebchenko. "I will use the time to rest and to calm down in the next two, three hours and then I will come back, refocus and go after the gold medal," the Frenchman said.
Arslanov feels prepared, though. "He is a strong opponent. You cannot underestimate any opponent anyway. We've watched his videos before, now we'll prepare our tactics against him," the Russian fencer said of Tony Helissey.