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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 April, 2004, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Pozdniakov targets fifth gold
Stanislav Pozdniakov is the out-and-out star of the Olympic fencing, with four gold medals under his belt.

This year the Russian will be bidding for a quintet of gold.

BBC Sport marks your fencing card with a profile of Pozdniakov and three other international names to watch out for at the Athens Olympics.

PETER JOPPICH

The 21-year-old German could confirm himself as the leading men's foil star with a gold medal in Athens, and he has already proved to have the mentality of a champion.

He took over from 31-year-old Olympic silver medalist Ralf Bissdorf as the top German with victory in the 2003 national championships.

Joppich had already had his fair share of success as part of Germany's junior World Championship winning team in 2001 and 2002.

But victory over Simone Vanni of Italy in Havana last year brought Joppich the world title and marked him out as a favourite for Athens.

Ranked number two in the world, only Italian Salvatore Sanzo is rated higher.

STANISLAV POZDNIAKOV

Russia's four-time Olympic sabre champion looks sure to be in the running for another gold medal in Athens.

The 30-year-old won his first gold in Barcelona, where the Russian squad won the team event.

Four years later in Atlanta he won both individual and team gold and there was another team gold in Sydney.

However, Pozdniakov can be beaten, as happened at last year's World Championships in Havana, where he finished fifth.

American Keeth Smart, Italians Aldo Montano and Luigi Tarantino, world champion Vladimir Lukashenko and reigning Olympic champion Mihai Covaliu will all provide stiff opposition.

LAURA FLESSEL-COLOVIC

Laura Flessel-Colovic
The left-hander has lightning speed and a fiercely competitive nature that has earned her the nickname of 'the wasp', as well as a host of international titles.

A native of Guadeloupe, she relocated to Paris in 1990 and made her first major impact on the world stage with a bronze at the 1995 World Championships.

The following year, Flessel-Colovic took gold in both the individual and team competitions at the Barcelona Olympics and added the 1998 and 1999 World Championships.

And despite only managing a bronze in Sydney, the 32-year-old remains the epee world number one and favourite to regain her crown.

SYLWIA GRUCHALA

The Pole looks set for a battle royal for gold in Athens with foil world champion Valentina Vezzali of Italy.

Gruchala finished second to Vezzali at last year's World Championships in Cuba but proved she can match the Italian by winning two of their four meetings in 2003.

At the same event she helped the Polish team take gold but they will not improve on the silver they took in Sydney, behind Italy, as the women's team foil has been dropped from the programme.

The 22-year-old's progress has been steady since an 11th place finish in the 1999 World Championships and Gruchala is determined to take the final step in Athens.





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