August 10, 2016 / 8:52 PM / 3 years ago

Fencing: Canadian upsets Italian 'idol' to make history

Eleanor Harvey (CAN) of Canada competes with Arianna Errigo (ITA) of Italy. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A year ago Eleanor Harvey was not sure she would make the Rio Games, but on Wednesday she stunned one of her heroes in Canada’s strongest individual fencing performance ever at the Olympics.

Harvey came from behind to beat gold medal favorite Arianna Errigo of Italy, the world’s top-ranked women’s foil fencer, before falling in the quarter-final.

“She’s one of my idols,” said Harvey, breathless but upbeat after finishing seventh. “She’s one of my favorite fencers to watch. Her fencing is so exciting. She’s such a boss.”

Watching her role model fence for years did not prepare Harvey to face down the 2012 silver medalist and two-times world champion, whose speed and reach caught the 21-year-old Canadian off guard.

“She could finish her attacks from so far away ... so that’s when I realized to close the distance,” said Harvey, who reeled off a string of late points to beat Errigo 15-11.

Harvey then fought Tunisia’s Ines Boubakri to a 12-12 tie before letting the quarter-final slip away in a bittersweet finish to her historic day in Rio de Janeiro.

The dreams of Olympic glory started early for Harvey, who swapped karate for fencing at 10 years old after learning the former wasn’t part of the Games program.

“It’s pretty exciting to make top eight at my first Olympics - from Canada! That doesn’t happen,” she said, with a bewildered smile.

Reporting by Brad Haynes; Editing by Frank Pingue

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