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Olympic gold medalist Vladimir Smirnov, the only Soviet fencer...

CLERMONT-FERRAND, France -- Olympic gold medalist Vladimir Smirnov, the only Soviet fencer in the last 24, outhit Romania's Petru Kuki 11-9 to clinch the men's individual foil title at the 39-nation World Fencing Championships Saturday.

The bronze medal went to Italy's Angelo Scuri, who scored a 10-7 win over Hungary's Gyula Orocz.

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Smirnov, a 27-year-old army officer, also retained the World Cup, assessed on performances in major competitions, with Saturday's victory.

But Smirnov, fighting from a classically upright stance, had to come from behind to clinch the final against his fellow left-hander.

He trailed 6-8 and then 7-9 against his smaller opponent, who scored crucial plints by darting inside the Russian's guard.

But Smirnov roused himself to salvage some Soviet pride after Friday's disastrous preliminaries when his four team partners went out. Kuki, world junior champion in 1973 and 1974, had earlier defeated Italy's 1976 olympic champion Fabio del Zotto 12-10 in a bitterly-fought quarterfinal.

Mathisas Behr, West Germany's winner of the prestigious Martini Trophy, was fifth after his contest was delayed 15 minutes when the lighting system operating the scoring malfunctioned.

France's 1978 world champion Didier Flament was crushed 10-1 by Scuri in the quarterfinal, perhaps the last bout of his international career, and finished sixth.

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Fellow countryman Philippe Omnes was eighth. Omnes had earlier beaten another French star, Olympic silver medalist Pascal Jolyot and also Italian Mauro Numa.

In the preliminaries of the women's foil which continues Sunday, France's double Olympic champion Pascale Trinquet crashed out losing all her second round contests.

But the three other favorites, West Germany's reigning world champion Cornelia Hanisch, the Soviet two-time winner Valentina Sidorova and French Brigitte Gaudin are still left in the competition.

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