November 28, 2015

TURIN, Italy (AP) Six-time Olympic champion fencer Valentina Vezzali won't be competing at next year's Rio de Janeiro Games after failing to qualify Saturday.

The 41-year-old Vezzali was eliminated in the second round of the foil event at the Trofeo Inalpi meet, while Italian teammate Arianna Errigo reached the semifinals and gained the necessary points to qualify.

Vezzali won at least one gold at the last five Olympics in either individual or team foil. She has a total of nine Olympic medals and 25 at world championships.

Her second son was born in 2013, the year in which she also became a member of Italy's parliament.

''It was really difficult to come back,'' Vezzali told the Gazzetta dello Sport this week. ''I don't think I have anything else to prove.''

She plans to retire after the European Championship in Poland in June.

''Arianna and Elisa (Di Francisca) are very good but then I'm next, at the age of 41, with two sons, and with all the things I'm involved in,'' Vezzali added. ''I'm the third Italian and I would have qualified if there was a team event in Rio but there's not. That's the rule and you've got to respect it.''

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