Romania's Olympic silver medallist Ana Maria Branza, so often forced to play the role of bridesmaid at top fencing events, used every bit of her experience to finally grab centre stage at the age of 30 at the Baku 2015 European Games.
The Romanian, who won silver at Beijing 2008 and world championship bronze medals in 2002 and 2011, defeated Russian Yana Zvereva 15-11 in the final of the women's individual epee after a composed late comeback.
The world no.2 had reached the final after a dramatic sudden-death victory over world no.3 Erika Kirpu of Estonia in the semi, when the fencers were tied 11-11 at the end of the normal time. Then in the final, Branza kept her cool under pressure again, falling behind 11-9 before fighting back to clinch the title.
"I came here just wanting to enjoy my fencing. I felt relaxed and cool," Branza said. "Sometimes people tell me to be more serious when I am fencing but I'm just like that.
"At the start of the day I just wanted to get on the podium but from the last four, it's a new competition. I felt relaxed at the end. I always feel relaxed under pressure.
"This is historic for me because my name with be there as champion for years and years. It was tough but it was my day today."
photo Getty Images
photo Getty images