After the toughest of matches, Italy's three musketeers, Andrea CASSARA, Andrea BALDINI and Giorgio AVOLA, prevailed against Japan to win the final of the men's foil team event 45-39.
It was a war of attrition in which Japan pushed the No.1 seeds to the limit, scorning their own lowly seventh seeding by answering every dazzling touch with one of equal virtuosity. Three times the Japanese drew level and only in the last two bouts did the Italians gradually impose themselves.
In the bronze medal match, Germany raced to a 20-5 lead over USA after four bouts and powered on to win 45-27.
Japan knocked out the No.2 and No.3 seeds to reach the final against Italy. They followed their surprise quarterfinal win over second seeds China by defeating third seeds Germany in the last four of the competition.
In the semifinal, Yuki OTA (JPN) equalised in the dying seconds against last-fight specialist and four-time world champion Peter JOPPICH (GER) to make it 40-40. In extra time, both fencers attacked and appeared to hit simultaneously, but the video review showed that OTA had made the first move, giving Japan victory.
In the other semifinal, Italy dominated USA from the start and coasted to a 45-24 victory. However, the US team is the youngest at the Games and should become a force in men's foil for many years.
The quarterfinals were the most exciting seen at the fencing events and each produced a dramatic confrontation. Japan beat China 45-30. The turning point came in the fourth bout when, with the score at 10-10, Kenta CHIDA (JPN) crushed MA Jianfei (CHN) 13-3.
Germany staged an extraordinary recovery against Russia. They were 30-22 down but 2008 Olympic champion Benjamin KLEIBRINK (GER) and JOPPICH each scored 11 hits in their last bouts against Renal GANEEV and Alexey CHEREMISINOV (RUS) respectively to win 44-40.
France were comfortably ahead against USA until substitute Gerek MEINHARDT (USA) came on and defeated Victor SINTES (FRA) 11-1, and Race IMBODEN (USA) beat Enzo LEFORT (FRA) 5-1 to give USA a 40-32 lead going into the last bout. Although Erwan LE PECHOUX (FRA) clawed back seven hits, Alexander MASSIALAS (USA) saw his team home 45-39.