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New Star Born after Dramatic Battle: Máté Koch Becomes World Champion

Hungary Today 2023.07.27.

Hungarian duel fencing has a new world champion, Máté Koch, winning the World Championships in Milan, Italy. In a dramatic battle for a place in the last four, Koch beat World Championship gold medalist and Olympic silver medalist Gergely Siklósi (also Hungarian), but once he did, he did not stop there. Koch is one of the few in Hungarian sports to have broken into the international elite since the Tokyo Olympics – Magyar Nemzet reports.

Máté Koch and Gergely Siklósi both marched confidently to the quarter-finals, where they clashed. It was Koch’s second internecine fight, beating Tibor Andrásfi in the round of 32. As expected, Siklósi, the 2019 World champion and 2021 Olympic silver medalist, advanced almost until the end, while Koch was retreating to the back of the piste. There were several turnarounds during the bouts, and after 13-12, Koch closed the match with a two-point action, and he cried with joy. Siklósi hugged him, said something to him and they stayed like that for seconds in the middle of the court, while the Hungarian delegation members arrived from the stands, many of them also in tears from the touching scene. It was Hungarian royal drama at its best.

Siklósi and Koch hugging after Koch wins their duel for quarterfinal position. Photo: MTI/Tibor Illyés

Máté was better today, I must admit that he beat me in the last training session too. I tried to solve it in all forms, we had a very high quality bout. I think that if someone can beat the other in a fair match, he deserves it,

said Siklósi in a sportsmanlike way, then added that winning is not everything, and that is why he admitted against his Colombian opponent that one of the touches he was given was not one, because he did not want to win by cheating.

Siklósi pointed out that Koch did not use the same discouraging tactics against him that he usually does against others.

He behaved so beautifully, although he is used to complaining in the field, but he said nothing against me. Hats off to him for beating me like that. I will try to beat him in the future,”

said Siklósi.

After four great bouts, Koch parried in the fifth, but this time on the main piste against Kazakhstan’s Ruslan Kurbanov. He got the first touch, but then in the first phase he turned the score around to 2-1, then 5-4, before a series of six touches in every position. At 10-4 he was in a winning position. Kurbanov found some momentum later on, coming back from 14-6 to 14-10, but the match was finally settled by a double-touch.

Koch fought this year’s European champion Davide Di Veroli from Italy for the gold medal. The Italian started better, but Koch caught up. The hits came rarely, and it became apparent that neither side would reach 15 hits. By the break, Koch had taken a two-point lead and Di Veroli had no choice but to stake his all upon a single cast, but to no avail. Koch poked him repeatedly and eventually won 14-10.

“I do not say anything,” Koch began his world championship statement, meaning he was at a loss for words. “We cannot celebrate for too long, we have a team competition in two days, we want to get a quota,”

he concluded.

Fencing Champion Wins Bronze Medal in Milan
Fencing Champion Wins Bronze Medal in Milan

The three-time Olympic gold medalist and last year's world champion Hungarian fencer faced Eli Dershwitz.Continue reading

Featured image: MTI/Tibor Illyés

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