VIENNA, Austria -- Vassil Etropolski gave Bulgaria its first World Fencing Championship gold medal Sunday, winning the men's individual sabre event after defeating his twin brother Hristo in a semifinal.
Vassil, this year's World Cup winner, beat Italy's Gianfranco Dalla Barba 10-8 in a very exciting final to take the gold, and Hristo easily crushed Italian Ferdinando Meglio 10-3 to take the bronze.
The twin medals illustrated the recent rise in Bulgaria's strength in sabre fencing.
Italy also had a successful day when, in addition to Dalla Barba's second and Meglio's fourth places, Giovani Scalzo took seventh place.
The sabre championship saw a general decline in the traditionally dominant countries of Hungary, Romania, Poland and the Soviet Union, with Hungary and Romania failing to place among the top eight.
Jacek Bierkowski took eighth place for Poland, and the Soviet Union managed a fifth position with Mikail Bourtsev, although the Soviet 1982 champion, Rakita Krovopouskov, took a disappointing 19th place.
Canada's French-born Jean Paul Banon, 22, did surprisingly well to take 31st place, the only non-European placing within the top 32.
In the first round of the men's team foil event, the American team was eliminated after losing 9-2 to France and 9-5 to fifth-ranked Cuba.
Although only the B-team, as the national A-team is currently preparing for the Pan American Games in Venezuela next month, the Americans did very well against the Cubans, forcing them to struggle for every point in a match more equal than the score suggests.