South Korean epee fencer Choi In-jeong (Yonhap)
A pair of top-10 fencers from South Korea got knocked out of the Olympic competition after their first matches on Saturday.
Choi In-jeong, world No. 2 in women's epee, lost to Aizanat Murtazaeva of the Russian Olympic Committee 15-11 in the round of 32 at Makuhari Messe Hall B in Chiba, east of Tokyo, on Saturday.
Also in the round of 32, the eighth-ranked Kang Young-mi fell to Nozomi Sato of Japan 15-14.
Song Se-ra was the only South Korean to advance to the round of 16, thanks to her 15-12 win over Katharine Holmes of the United States. But that's as far as Song went, as she lost to Ana Maria Rou Popescu of Romania 15-6.
Choi, who received the bye past the round of 64 as the No. 1 seed here, never led Murtazaeva, who is ranked well outside 200.
The third-time Olympian blamed the loss on jitters.
"I tried not to get rattled, but once I stepped on the piste, nerves got to me," she said. "I wanted to keep positive thoughts in my mind but I think the pressure to win outweighed everything else."
Kang was upset by the 42nd-ranked Sato and said she got more nervous than usual. She fell behind 4-1 early and never found her groove.
"My plan was to take an early lead, force the opponent to get overly aggressive and then go on counterattacks," Kang said. "I lost a lot of points midway through. Then when I got closer, I was in too much of a rush."
Not all is lost for Choi and Kang, who will compete in the epee team event on Tuesday.
In the men's sabre competition Saturday, Gu Bon-gil, the 2012 team gold medalist, was sent packing in the round of 32, where he lost to Matyas Szabo of Germany 15-8. (Yonhap)