China's Bao Yingying won the title at the individual event of FIE 2008 Women's Sabre World Cup after beating her teammate Tan Xue 15-10 in Tianjin on Saturday.
Bao, ranked 22th in the world, surprised everybody by crushing Mariel Zagunis, the Athens Olympic champion, 15-9 and Ward Rebecca, the world's top seed, 15-14 in the semifinals and quarterfinals respectively.
"I just followed my own speed and strategies in the game, and played in a relaxed way. My hard training in the last a few months pays off", she said after the games.
Last year's World Cup winner Tan won the silver while Zagunis, along with Japan's Nakayama Seira, were placed at the third place.
"Playing in my hometown adds pressure to me. I need restructuring in my techniques", admitted Tan, a Tianjin local and also a sabre gold favourite for the Beijing Games. Tan was defeated by Zagunis in Athens four years ago to win a Olympic silver medal.
"It still takes time for Tan to restructure her skills, while Bao Yingying can adjust her techniques to the event swiftly," said Christian Bauer, head coach of the Chinese sabre team. "Every fencer has a chance to win the game."
The match, which was held in the coastal city of Tianjin in north China, is the last fencing event that gathers the world's top 16 players before the Beijing Olympics.
Zagunis, grabbing the Olympic gold medal at the age of 19, hoped she would win again in the Beijing Olympics, while confessed that it was a hard match against Bao since she had not fought with Bao before.
The world's top seed Rebecca, eliminated in the quarterfinals, told reporters that she was looking forward to the Beijing Games.
(Xinhua News Agency June 1, 2008)