2016 was a special year for Romanian fencing, with noteworthy results beginning to add to Romanian fencers’ record sheet as early as in March, when Steaua Bucharest’s women’s epee team, made up of Ana Maria Popescu-Brânză, Simona Gherman, Simona Pop and Greta Veres won the European Cup. In the final, Steaua outperformed Moscow Fencing Club, 45-38.
In June, Romania walked away with 4 medals at the European Fencing Championships in Torun, Poland. In the individual epee event, the gold went to Simona Gherman, while the silver medal went to Ana-Maria Popescu, whom Gherman defeated in the final. The other two medals were bronze, and were won by Romania’s women’s epee team, made of Ana-Maria Popescu, Simona Pop, Simona Gherman and Loredana Dinu, and by the men’s saber team, made of Alin Badea, Tiberiu Dolniceanu, Ciprian Gălăţanu and Iulian Teodosiu.
Taking that into account, expectations were high ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio, and it was again the women’s epee team that met these expectations. The team members, Ana-Maria Popescu, Simona Pop, Simona Gherman and Loredana Dinu, won the first Olympic title for Romanian fencing in the nations’ competition. Also, it was the only gold medal the Romanian delegation won at the Olympic Games in Rio.
In Rio, Romania’s hardest match was the one against the United States in the quarterfinals, when Romania won, 24-23, thanks to Ana-Maria Popescu’s golden touch. Then in the semifinals, Romania had no problem defeating Russia, 45-31, while in the finals, Romania outclassed the defending Olympic champions China, 44-38.
The gold medal in Rio turned Romania’s epee lineup into an unrivaled team in the race for the Team of the year 2016 title. The performance of Romanian women fencers is all the more impressive, as most of the team members were at the end of their career. Save for Simona Pop, who was born in 1988, the other girls are over 30 and their record includes a great number of medals won in top-class competitions.