(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Tunisian sabre fencer Azza Besbes has sent a public message of thanks to the staff at the world renowned orthopaedic and sports medicine hospital, Aspetar, after she clinched the silver medal at the 2017 FIE World Fencing Championship in Leipzig, Germany, following a hard-fought final against Ukraine's Olga Kharlan.
In her message of thanks, the Tunisian champion, who competed at this year's tournament with over 950 other fencers from 76 different countries, expressed her gratitude at the support she received from the hospital's staff during her preparations for the World Championship.
'I am absolutely thrilled with this achievement and still can't quite believe it's true, it's surreal to see the medal hanging around my neck, she said. 'It has been an extremely tough season though and I had to work so hard so I am pleased to have ended it on such a happy note. I would like to thank everyone at Aspetar and say how outstanding the hospital's staff really is.
'Those who worked with me during my rehabilitation programme helped me so much and I can't speak highly enough about their professionalism and dedication. I wish I could return to celebrate this happy moment with them all as they all played their part in helping me become a world silver medallist.
From October to November 2016, the world fencing silver medallist, ten-time African champion and the only Tunisian, Arab and African fencer to win a world medal in three age categories, took part in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.
She undertook an extensive rehabilitation and treatment programme with Aspetar's world leading sports consultants and physiotherapists as she looked to prepare for the 2017 FIE World Championship and bag a medal.
Besbes' passage to the final was tough after the Tunisian won a closely fought semi-final encounter against the renowned Italian, Irene Vecchi, eventually beating her by 15-14. Besbes' performance has since been praised by fencing experts and commentators around the world with many saying it demonstrated her current level of athletic conditioning.
'This is a historic moment for myself and my country as it represents Tunisia's first ever silver medal at a fencing World Championship. I dedicate this medal to my late mother, may her soul rest in peace, and everyone who supported and encouraged me and believed in my abilities, she said.
Aspetar provides comprehensive and world-class medical care to elite athletes to help them achieve their full potential and operate at maximum performance. The hospital has a long and proud history of providing medical support to several Arab and Tunisian athletes including the swimming star and three-time Olympic medallist, Oussama Mellouli; 3,000 metres steeplechase runner and Olympic gold medallist, Habiba Ghribi; Olympic bronze medallist and two-time Olympian fencer, Ines Boubakri; and the rising Tunisian tennis star, Ons Jabeur.
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