Fencing-Japanese sisters make tearful early exit in their individual matches

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Fencing - Women's Individual Foil - Last 32
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By Sakura Murakami

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese fencing sisters Rio and Sera Azuma crashed out in the preliminaries of the individual women's fencing on Sunday, putting an end to their dream of winning individual medals at the Tokyo Games.

Rio, 22, and Sera, 21, were both introduced to the sport by their mother, who had also competed at international levels.

"I just want to say I'm so sorry I lost, when you had supported me for so long," Sera said in a message to her mother as she buried her face in a towel to stem her tears.

The sisters competed in a near empty Makuhari Messe, watched by team mates instead of their parents.

"This could have been the first and last time we could take part in the Olympics as sisters, so I really wanted them to see us – whether we won or lost," Rio said after her match.

Although the Azuma sisters' hopes for a medal in the individual event have been dashed, they will compete in the team event on Thursday.

"Of course we're aiming for a medal, but we first have to beat a really strong U.S. team," said Rio.

"We're going to join forces to do our best."

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by David Dolan and Karishma Singh)

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