Heavily favored Italians win team fencing gold

After sweeping the women's individual foil competition earlier at the London Games, Italy dominated its way to gold in the team competition on Thursday.

Elisa Di Francisca, Arianna Errigo and Valentina Vezzali won gold, silver and bronze, respectively, in Saturday's individual foil event and Ilaria Salvatori joined the trio to secure the team win at ExCeL Exhibition Centre.

"We are a team and as a team of four people we all really wanted this gold medal," said Vezzali. "We gave all our best to do it and we all fenced with heart and soul."

Italy, which salvaged bronze four years ago in Beijing, has won four of the last five golds in this event. Russia, the gold medalist in 2008, faced the Italians in the gold medal match on Thursday and was dealt a 45-31 loss. That was the closest match of the day for the winners, who routed Great Britain (42-14) and France (45-22) before defeating the Russians for gold.

South Korea defeated France, 45-32, in the third-place match to earn its first medal in team fencing.

Vezzali now has nine Olympic medals (6 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze), giving her the most golds and total medals in the history of women's fencing. The 38- year-old had won the previous three Olympic individual events before coming up short in London.

The United States lost in the quarterfinal round to South Korea and finished in sixth place.