Baku, June 26, AZERTAC
Poland's Angelika Wator gatecrashed the family party of Azerbaijan's twin sisters Sevil and Sevinc Bunyatova at the European Games, when she won the gold medal in the individual women's sabre.
Wator prevented the final becoming a duel of the sisters from Baku when she beat Sevinc 15-11 in the semi-finals. The 21-year-old then kept her cool at the dramatic end of a tight final against Sevil to win 15-14 and seal the title.
France's Margaux Rifkiss joined Sevinc in taking the bronze medals. Rifkiss was beaten 15-9 by Sevil in the last four.
The 25-year-old sisters train in a former Soviet arts centre just outside Baku.
On a day of surprises, Sevil had put out Greek Vassiliki Vougiouka, the world no.9 and top seed, in the quarter-finals on her way to the final.
The Azerbaijani fencer was always a contender in the final, but it was Wator who kept her composure at 14-14.
“I have gone through millions of hours of training and a lot of tears to get here, and I’m now being paid back with this gold medal,” Wator said. “I didn’t expect to deliver such a good performance here, but I gave all I had in every fight."
Sevil Bunyatova said she was just happy to have a medal.
"I'm thrilled that I brought this medal to Azerbaijan," she said. "I did not expect it, but somehow I believed in myself. Fencing in Azerbaijan will grow and we will get more medals."
Olympic champion Olga Kharlan of Ukraine, the most high-profile female fencer, went out of the competition before the knockout stage, losing four of her five matches in the round-robin pool stage.