It's All About Beating The Girl Next Door

When no. 1-ranked Valentina Vezzali faced off against No. 2 Giovanna Trillini in the women's individual foil final last week, they weren't merely dueling for gold. They were fighting for the title of top fencer in Jesi, the small Italian town where both grew up. And since Jesi has dominated the sport for more than a decade, being best in town right now means being best in the world.

Before Athens, Trillini had won four Olympic golds (three team, one individual) and Vezzali had won three (two team, one individual). On the morning of their duel, held in...

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