MOSCOW – Yuki Ota was crowned the first- ever Japanese world champion in fencing after winning the men’s individual foil at the World Fencing Championships here on Thursday.
Ota, who won an individual silver in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and another silver in the team foil in London in 2012, overcame American Alexander Massialas 15-10 for the win.
“I’ve entered this world championship thinking this could be my last. I carried out what I’ve been doing, and I’m really glad I’ve managed to win the title at the very last,” said Ota, who won bronze in both individual and team foil at the 2010 worlds.
“I would receive all his attacks if I stepped back easily, so I tried to step back while staying as close to him as possible,” said Ota of the final against Massialas, where his nimble and deft swordplay notched up points.
Ota defeated China’s Lei Sheng, the 2012 Olympic gold winner and the man who blocked his path to the final in the 2010 worlds, in the quarterfinals 15-9, and beat American Meinhardt Gerek by the same score in the semifinals.
A member of the successful 2020 Tokyo Olympics bid team, the 29-year-old was away for a year taking a break after the London Games in 2012 and the adjustments he made on his tactics paid dividends.
“The way I’ve been fighting, using physical abilities and speed, couldn’t get me to the top,” Ota stated. “I had to fence, controlling the game with my brain.
“I wanted to prove Japanese can win gold in fencing and it is really pleasing.”