The FIE rankings have been updated before World Championships, which starts next week in Kazan, Russia.
After their utter domination of European Championships, where they took 1st, 2nd and 3rd in individual and 2nd in teams after a nail-biting 44/45 loss to Italy, the Russians are back on top, with 412 points giving them a commanding lead over Italy (332) and Korea (328). The won the world team championships in 2013, and are looking pretty unstoppable again this year.
In individual men’s sabre, Veniamin Reshetnikov has narrowly edged out Jung Hwan Kim of South Korea to take the world #1 ranking, which he had previously held at the end of the 2013 season. The experienced left-hander was also the 2013 World Champion, deafeating team-mate Nikolay Kovalev in a surprise upset in the final in Budapest.
Kim lost his position after being elimated in the round of 8 at Asian Championships after being injured in a (frankly highly questionable) bout against Ali Pakdaman (Iran). He now trails Reshetnikov by just 5 points (308 to 303).
Video presented without further comment.
Kim, however, recovered his form three days later in the team event at Asian Championships, putting on a spectacular performance in the final against Japan.
Narrowly behind Kim in 3rd place on the individual rankings is Aron Szilagyi, on 194 points. Both Kim and Szilagyi have fenced Reshetnikov this season, and both defeated him. I’d be pretty happy to see a rematch of either bout in the finals in Kazan next week.
Moscow 2014: L4: Kim v Reshetnikov
Athens 2014: L4: Szilagyi v Reshetnikov
However, if he’s recovered from his injury scares and is fencing the way he was last weekend in the teams in Suwon City, my money is on Kim to regain his individual #1 spot. The open question is whether he, along with a recently revitalised Gu Bongil, can drag the Koreans over the line to their first team World Championship title.
Whatever the outcome, Kazan is shaping up to be an interesting comp.