Rio 2016 Review of Day 5
The reason for writing this blog is that the Olympics throw up so many stories, some of which are missed while focusing on national medal tallies. Ines Boubakri is such a story.
Representing Tunisia, she got to the quarter finals of the individual foil at London 2012, but she lost in sudden death to the great Valentina Vezzali, from the Italian town of Jesi.
This year, she faced Elisa Di Francisca, another Italian from Jesi, in the semi finals, and took an early lead in a tight first period. But as time wore on, it took its toll, and there was a long break in which she received treatment for a back injury. She struggled after the match resumed and the empathic Di Francisca was clearly pained about her plight.
Boubakri lost and had little more than an hour to recover before the bronze medal was decided. It showed as she went 6-1 down but she then brought it back to 7-4 by the end of the first period. She fought to a lead of 13-11 by the end of the second and screamed when she struck what she hoped was the final blow in the third. After a short pause, the referee awarded the point and she screamed again. Tunisia had its first medal in fencing.
Boubakri trains in France, a traditional fencing power, but there are signs that the sport is growing in North Africa, inspired by Alaaeldin Abouelkassem, the silver medallist at London 2012 from Egypt. It is becoming popular among Muslim women because of its conservative dress – US sabrist Ibtihaj Muhammad will fight for team gold on Saturday.
Di Francisca’s final against Inna Deriglazova from Russia was just as dramatic. She went from a 3-0 lead to a 7-3 deficit and she staged a remarkable comeback in the final period. Four points down with seconds to spare, she reduced the margin to 12-11 with just 2.5 on the clock. It was not quite enough time so she added a silver to her gold from London.
Fiji topped its pool in men’s rugby sevens but it was rewarded with a tough draw against the New Zealand All Blacks. But Fiji managed to knock its rivals out of the competition.
Kristin Armstrong (above) won the women’s time trial in road cycling for the third time in a row, a day before her 43rd birthday. Fabian Cancellera of Switzerland won a second title in the men’s race. Kohei Uchimara won the gymnastics all-around but by a smaller margin than expected from Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine and Great Britain’s Max Whitlock.
It was a first all-around medal since 1908 and Team GB also broke new ground with its first ever gold medal in diving, from Jack Laugher and Chris Mears in the synchronised springboard event, breaking the near monopoly that China has enjoyed in recent years.
In shooting, Jin Jong-oh of South Korea won the air pistol for the third time, his fourth gold in all. Fehaid Al-Deehani won what would have been the first ever gold medal for Kuwait, were it not banned by the IOC. Instead, he competed under the Olympic flag.