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Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Vezzali survives in battle of Italian greats

Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Valentina Vezzali beat longtime teammate Giovanna Trillini 15-11 to win the gold medal in foil Wednesday night in a matchup of two Italian greats.

Vezzali won her fourth Olympic fencing gold, equaling the most won by a woman. The silver was Trillini's seventh Olympic medal, tying her for tops among women's fencers. Trillini also has four golds.

Sylwia Gruchala of Poland beat Aida Mohamed of Hungary 15-9 to win the bronze.

Vezzali and Trillini have been teammates for a decade on an Italian foil team that won Olympic golds in 1996 and 2000 and world championships in 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2004.

"We are close friends with Trillini," Vezzali said. "We are from the same town but only one should win."

Vezzali won her second straight Olympic gold in the individual foil. Trillini won golds in both the team and individual competitions in 1992 in Barcelona.

Vezzali and Trillini took the medal stand to chants of "Italia" after a final that was close until late. As if able to anticipate each other's every move, Vezzali and Trillini danced for more than two minutes in the first round before the first point was scored.

Tied 6-6 going into the third round, Vezzali scored the first touch and never looked back. After the winning point, she dropped to her knees in celebration.

American Erinn Smart of New York lost in the round of 32.