Baku Bulletin: Day Ten in Review

Nicola Adams, Qais Ashfaq and Joe Joyce are all guaranteed at least bronze after coming safely through their respective quarter final bouts but Kieran Slater bows out after back-and-forth archery match. Here’s our review of the day ten of the European Games in Baku.

Around the village

Nicola Adams avenged her only defeat since London 2012 when she saw off Bulgaria’s Stoyka Petrova to guarantee herself bronze at the European Games.

The Bulgarian beat Adams during last year’s European Championships but there was no such luck this time as the Briton won 2-0 (39-37 39-37 38-38).

Victory means Adams now takes on Turkey’s Elif Coskun for the chance to fight for gold and the Olympic champion is eager to bring the top prize home with her from Baku.

“To be fair that could have been a final really, she’s a really tricky opponent, a counter puncher so it’s like a game of chess in there,” said Adams.

“It was a good win because she’s a top class fighter and a really experienced opponent so I knew I had it all to prove today.

“She beat me last year when I had an injured shoulder but I knew I could come back from that and get on another winning streak.

“I’m here for gold, I want the gold and I am hoping I can make history again and bring it back to Britain and that’s what I hope to do.”

In the super heavyweight division Joe Joyce produced another outstanding performance to finish Mantas Valavicius in the first round of their quarter final.

Joyce finished Alexei Zavatin in his round of 16 fight and forced the referee to step in this time as he won by TKO against his Lithuanian opponent.

"I saw the opening so I went in. I wasn't going for the stoppage, but I was relaxed and ready to go to work. He was just a bit unprepared for me," said Joyce.

And Qais Ashfaq was also is fine form as he outboxed German Omar El-Hag to score a 3-0 victory and set up a semi-final clash with Dzmitry Asanau.

"Like I've said from the beginning, I've come here for that gold medal and until I get the gold medal the job's not done,” he said.

"I'm looking forward to getting that gold medal in a few days and taking him home to Leeds."

"It sends a huge message. It just shows that I am No1 and if I keep performing I'll keep that No1 spot and that's what I'm doing."

Kieran Slater might have narrowly missed out on a spot in the final four in Baku but the archer is already charting a path to Rio.

The 21-year-old made steady progress through the first two rounds and started Monday with emphatic 6-0 victory over Turkey’s Yagiz Yilmaz.

But he came unstuck when he met France’s Pierre Plihon and, after a back and forth battle, Slater was beaten in a shoot off.

However he says he is happy with his performance and is already looking forward to the next challenge.

“It was quite exhilarating going out there, it was a lot hotter than I am used to but I really enjoyed it,” said the 21-year-old.

“I’m quite pleased with how I have shot in the head to heads and all the ranking rounds are really close these days so it was anyone’s game.

“Each end was close and it seemed like it would be heading for a shoot off throughout the match because it was going one way and then the other.

“It’s the first time I’ve done a shoot off for a while so I have definitely learned and I enjoyed it.

“My initial goal was to make the last 16 so I feel happy and relieved and a little bit hot.

“We have a selection shoot next weekend back in the UK for the World Championships so hopefully I’ll get selected for that team and can go on to Rio.”

Fencer James Honeybone is under no illusions as to the size of the challenge facing him at the European Games, but insists a successful outing in Baku can leave him perfectly placed ahead of next month’s World Championships.

Truro-born Honeybone was Team GB’s sole representative in the men’s sabre at London 2012, where he went out in the first round.

He will again fly the flag in the men’s sabre competition when action gets underway at the Crystal Hall in Baku on Tuesday.

And the 24-year-old, who was the only British fencer to make the last 32 of the recent European Championships in Switzerland, believes the competition in Baku can provide the perfect warm up for the forthcoming Worlds in Russia.

“Performance-wise I just want to go out there and feel confident in my own fencing and try and go into the World Championships from there,” he said.

“The men’s sabre is very much a European dominated weapon. So in some ways the European Championships is actually far harder than the World Championships.

“The World Championships, in the group stage, you will have people from nations who are perhaps not so strong but at the European Championships, every single pool will be very strong.

“It’s a pressure cooker environment, and that will be the same for these European Games.”

© Sportsbeat 2015