Switzerland's men's fencing were unable to follow their female counterparts onto the podium at the world championships in Nîmes, but could at least celebrate their first top ten finish in 11 years.This content was published on November 1, 2001 - 18:48
The épée team, made up of Marcel Fischer, Basil Hoffmann, Benjamin Steffen and Michel Kauter, were beaten 37-45 in the last 16 by eventual gold medallists Hungary, ending their own medal chances.
The team rallied in the subsequent battle for places, though, seeing off Holland (45-32), Sweden (45-44) and Russia (45-36) to secure ninth place - Switzerland's best performance in the men's team épée since their sixth place finish at the 1990 world championships in Lyon.
Swiss champion Benjamin Steffen was the match-winner in all three classification bouts and came away from the Russia fight with a plus 11 balance.
Switzerland coach Rolf Kalich was happy that the men had met their target of a place in the top ten. "With a better draw, they could even have made it into the quarter-finals," he added.
Thursday's ninth place finish brought a satisfactory end to a world championship tournament that has gone down as the most successful ever for Switzerland.
In the women's event, Gianna Hablützel-Bürki added to her impressive tally of international honours with a bronze medal in the opening weekend's individual épée, before joining up with Sophie Lamon and Diana Romagnoli to take silver in the team category.
Basil Hoffmann completed the Swiss haul with a surprise silver medal in the men's individual épée competition.
swissinfo with agencies
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