Argentina’s Pérez Maurice loses Olympic fencing bout but gains fiancé

Argentina’s Maria Belen Pérez Maurice suffered defeat in the women’s saber on Monday in Tokyo, although it appears she won’t be changing coaches anytime soon.

Pérez Maurice had just lost to Anna Marton of Hungary in the round of 32 when her coach, who is also her boyfriend of 17 years, proposed to her. Luckily for Saucedo, seeing as the proposal was on live television, Pérez Maurice said yes.

The 36-year-old was analysing her loss in an interview with Argentinian television when Saucedo appeared in shot and holding a note. “Will you marry me??? Please,” read the note in Spanish. Pérez Maurice screamed in delight and accepted.

“They [the interviewer] told me to turn around, and he had the letter. I forgot everything. I was like, ‘Oh my God,’” she said. “We are very happy. We are very good partners. Of course, we have fights, but we enjoy each other’s time. We love each other so much, and we want to spend our lives together. We are going to celebrate in Buenos Aires with a big barbecue.”

She added that they had discussed marriage before but she was still surprised by the proposal. “We love each other so much. Now we want to spend our life together,” Pérez Maurice said. “We were talking about this [getting married], but I didn’t know.”

Saucedo said he had started to think about the proposal the night before, even though he didn’t have a ring. He couldn’t find a piece of paper for the message when he arrived at the arena on the morning of the event and had to procure one from a volunteer, who ripped some paper from a printer. Saucedo then decided he would pop the question when Pérez Maurice lost, and wait if she made it through the rounds.

“I love her, and when she lost the match she got very sad, so maybe this proposal should change her mentality,” he said. “I wrote on the paper in the moment. If she had won, no, I would have waited for the moment.”

The couple met through fencing. Saucedo had represented Argentina in fencing himself before becoming a coach. Pérez Maurice was one of his pupils and they eventually became a couple. Saucedo first proposed in 2010 but Pérez Maurice thought she was too young to settle down at the time.

Pérez Maurice said they often turn trips to tournaments around Europe and Asia into holidays, exploring the areas around the host cities. “We are always doing something,” Pérez Maurice said. “We are very good partners. We have fun with each other.”

The couple plan to celebrate the engagement when they arrive back in Argentina. The ending wasn’t so sweet for Marton, the fencer who beat Pérez Maurice. She lost to France’s Manon Brunet in the bronze medal match later that day.

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