For the Mitzpeh
After defeating two opponents from the No. 1 junior team in the world, Italy, Israeli fencer Vera Maia Devi Kanevski won the gold medal in the women’s Épée Zone Championships at the 2017 European Junior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, on March 7.
Kanevski beat Ukraine’s Inna Brovko in the final 15-13. This win brought the 17-year-old from from 19th place to fifth in the International Fencing Federation’s junior épée ranking. Épée is a form of fencing in which the whole body is the target area.
“I didn’t think this day would end like this,” Kanevski said after winning, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. “I’m happy that everything fell into place.”
Kanevski had already displayed great potential, prior to this competition. In the 2016 Rio Olympics European Qualification Tournament, she finished in 10th place. In the 2016 World Junior Championships, she finished in fifth place. However, she was not expected to defeat Italy and Ukraine this year.
“The thing with fencing is that sometimes you have a really good day and a lucky bracket,” freshman mechanical engineering major and member of this university’s fencing club Ji Shi said. “But some days you end up having a really bad day and you do poorly, and just get knocked out. It isn’t surprising that an underdog can win at all.”
In the championship, Israelis Nikol Gavrielko and Yana Botvinik, along with Kanevski, led Israel to a sixth-place finish in the team event. Individually, Gavrielko finished in sixth place and Botvinik in eighth place. Israel’s top male performer, Jacob Pizenberg, ended the épée competition in sixth place.
“This was an amazing day for our team,” Israeli team coach Doron Levit said, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. “There aren’t many teams in the world that can finish with three fencers in the top eight, especially with one of them winning gold. I’m delighted with Vera’s amazing achievement.”
However, the fencers were not just dueling for a medal, but also for reimbursement of their travels to Bulgaria. The Israel Fencing Association’s financial situation does not cover sending its athletes abroad, meaning the athlete’s families had to bear the full cost of sending their children to compete.
The regulations stated that after the championships, the athletes who reached the finals would receive a full refund.
“As an Israeli, it makes me proud to see how hard they worked to achieve their goal,” sophomore communications major Sheli Leshem said. “It makes me really happy to be a part of a group that is so proud and so willing to work hard to achieve greatness.”