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Vezzali, Valentine's Day girl who rules fencing piste
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Cathing up with the rival in the last minute, overtaking her in the last three seconds, only a veteran fencer can achieve this.

Maria Valentina Vezzali made it, and pocketed her fifth Olympic gold medal Monday at the Beijing Olympics women's foil individual event.

"For those a few seconds, I felt completely isolated," the 34-year-old fencer said as she fiddled with her prize -- a gold medal inlaid with jade.

In the final bout, Vezzali trailed South Korea's Nam Hyun Hee 4-5 as the grueling fight had less than one minute to go. She calmed herself down, thrusted her sword and levelled the scores to 5-5. Cheers thundered from the stands.

"Before I came to the Beijing Games, my son asked me to bring a gold medal home," Vezzali honered the committement to her child by striking the winning hit three seonds by the end of regular time.

Born on Feb. 14, 1974, Vezzali once told reporters that she was named Valentina because she was born on Valentine's Day.

The Valentine's Day girl has now become a queen on the fencing piste, winning five Olympic gold medals, 10 World Championship gold medals and numerous other titles.

"Now what I have to do is to concentrate, as a few days later we shall have the team event," Vezzali said after Monday's victory.

The Italians do have a shot in the women's foil team event. Vezzali and her compatriots Margherita Granbassi, Giovanna Trillini, are ranked the world's top three according to the International Fencing Federation's ratings.

Maybe the mother can surprise her little son by taking home two golds.

"There are two kinds of people, one kind will yield to pressure, the other kind will never give up," said Vezzali, who is a police officer in occupation.

The veteran fencer will just never give up. She told Xinhua she would continue to fight and aspired to be the flag bearer for Italy at the 2012 London Games.

(Xinhua News Agency August 11, 2008)

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