Fechter killed his opponent: Behr reconciled with fate by taking in Ukrainian refugees

Sport Fencer killed his opponent

Behr reconciled to fate by taking in Ukrainian refugees

Status: 5:16 p.m

Tragic fencing accident at the 1982 World Cup - Matthias Behr

Foil fencer Matthias Behr after the tragic accident during the 1982 World Championships in Rome

Which: pa/UPI

In 1982, Matthias Behr’s foil blade broke during a World Championship match. It penetrates the head of his opponent Vladimir Smirnov and kills him. 40 years later, the German is able to give something back: He complies with a widow’s request and takes in Ukrainian refugees.

Et were dramatic scenes on the planche. At the Fencing World Championships in Rome in 1982, Matthias Behr fought in the team competition against his Soviet opponent Vladimir Smirnow. During a simultaneous attack, both athletes collided with great force. Behr’s foil blade broke when he hit it. He lost control, the blunt blade penetrating Smirnov’s mask, which was defectively porous. The stump entered the head through the eye. Smirnov fell into a coma and eventually succumbed to his serious injury.

Since then, Behr has not let go of the tragic accident. He feels guilty, although he is not to blame for the accident. In 2017, 35 years after the accident, he met Smirnov’s widow Emma, ​​who, like her late husband, is from Ukraine. Behr, who suffered from depression for a long time and toyed with suicidal thoughts, never let go of the memories of the fatal accident. “They are always there. Even if I go into a liquor store and see vodka with the Smirnov label on it, the thoughts of what happened immediately come back to me,” said Behr.

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The German foil fencer Matthias Behr after the tragic accident during the 1982 World Championships in Rome

Behr has maintained contact with Emma Smirnow since the 2017 meeting. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, she asked him to take in relatives in Tauberbischofsheim. Behr complied with the request and gave the fugitives a temporary home.

“Finally I can give something back”

By taking in Ukrainian war refugees from his family, Behr finally feels reconciled to fate. “It has come full circle for me. It was a gift for me: I can finally give something back,” said the 67-year-old to the magazine “Bunte”.

Talk show 'Markus Lanz' in Hamburg

Behr 35 years after the accident

Source: pa/Geisler-Fotopress/gbrci

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The tragic accident led to many rule changes in fencing. Unbreakable blades and new, more stable safety vests were introduced.


One Response

  1. Keep in mind that there weren’t really any manufacturing standards in 1982….the mask Smirnov was wearing was about half as strong as the entry-level masks I sell today.

    His death was indeed tragic, but fencing is a FAR safer sport because of it.

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