Fencing: Veteran leads the way for Britain

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FRANCE COLLECTED the last gold medal of the 1998 Senior World Fencing Championships in La Chaux-De-Fonds, Switzerland, with a sparkling display in the women's team epee. They overcame a strong challenge by Cuba to win 45-38, with Ukraine in third place. For the Olympic champion, Laura Flessel, it was the second medal of the Championships, the other coming in the women's individual epee.

In the women's team foil event, Italy confirmed their dominance by defeating Poland 45-35 for the gold. The result was a consolation for the defending champion, Giovanna Trillini, who had earlier looked off-form whilst settling for bronze in the individual event.

In the team sabre, Italy went out in fourth place but Luigi Tarantino, the new individual champion, was rushed to hospital after falling on his hip.

Overall the British performance has been indifferent. The leading result came from a veteran, Fiona McIntosh, who came 25th in the women's foil. The team sabre saw Britain hold on to a middle-order 12th place, losing 45-33 to the traditionally strong Hungarians. With only one British fencer in the men's epee - Quentin Berriman pulled out at the last minute for the second year running - no team was entered at that weapon.

In other events, Britain went out in the early rounds to Cuba 45-28 in the women's epee, and to Hungary, 45-27 in the women's foil. One bright spot was in the demonstration women's sabre event, where Louise Bond-Williams came third.

From an organisational point of view, the Championships have proved to be a nightmare. La Chaux- De-Fonds is too small to host so large a tournament, which has featured around 640 athletes from 78 nations.

Next season the event will be held at the Seoul Olympic arena, where the International Fencing Federation's goal of perfection may be easier to realise.

Results, Digest, page 27