Chamley-Watson finished 5-0 in the pool rounds to advance to the table of 64 in Anaheim. Photo Credit: Augusto Bizzi
(Anaheim, Calif.) –With just one month and two events remaining before the Senior World Championship Team is selected, the Absolute Fencing Gear FIE Grand Prix Anaheim has the potential to have a large impact on who will earn the fourth and final spot.
Miles Chamley-Watson (New York, N.Y.), the 2013 World Champion who is looking for a spot on his 10th straight Senior World Championship Team, currently trails 2018 Junior World Champion Nick Itkin (Los Angles, Calif.) by fewer than 1,000 points in the USA Fencing National Team Point Standings.
On the first day of competition in Anaheim, it was the veteran, Chamley-Watson, who advanced to Day 2 while Itkin was eliminated, giving Chamley-Watson the opportunity to move up to fourth if he can earn a top-eight finish or better on Sunday with only the Division I National Championships in April remaining before the team is selected.
“If I fence well, I’ll be at Worlds. If I don’t, I won’t make it. It’s that simple,” said Chamley-Watson, who won bronze in team at the Rio Olympic Games and has finished eighth individually at two World Cups this season. “For me it’s not really on my mind as much. It’s just something that I have to focus on and do well. Nick’s an awesome kid and he’s fencing well. It’s what you need. You need someone to wake you up.”
Chamley-Watson advanced to Sunday straight out of pools after going 5-0.
Fencing less than an hour from his hometown of Los Angeles, Itkin, who is looking for a spot on his first Senior World Team, went 4-2 in pools and after cruising through his first bout, struggled in his second. Down 10-5 to Chun Yin Ryan Choi (HKG), Itkin closed the gap to 10-7 at the first break and evened the score at 12. However, he came up short on the final touch, losing 15-14.
That opens the door for Chamley-Watson, who will face Yudai Nagano (JPN) in the table of 64 on Sunday. With a victory, Chamley-Watson will likely have a showdown with No. 3 Andrea Cassara (ITA), which would be the third of the year. Chamley-Watson claimed victories in both those bouts at the Tokyo and Cairo World Cups.
“When I’m fencing well, I’m the best in the world. When I’m not, I can lose to anyone,” Chamley-Watson said. “I’ve been here before. It’s about having fun and staying focused. That’s all it is. I’m here doing the thing I love, so just having fun.”
Chamley-Watson was one of four members of Team USA who advanced from the preliminary rounds, making a total of seven U.S. fencers in the table of 64 on Sunday.
Marcello Olivares (Cooper City, Fla.) also advanced straight from pools while Geoffrey Tourette (Cupertino, Calif.) and Philip Shin (New York, N.Y.) won their direct elimination bouts to reach the 64.
They join Rio Olympic team bronze medalists Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) and Alex Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.), who were exempt from the preliminary rounds with top 16 world rankings.
The reigning Cadet World silver medalist, Olivares tied for first out of pools after going 6-0. His closest bout was 5-3 and he earned two shutouts in a pool that included 2016 European Championship bronze medalist Andre Sanita (GER), two-time Asian Championship medalist Young Ki Son (KOR) and two-time Pan American Championship medalist Daniel Gomez (MEX).
“It feels great. I’m really happy,” Olivares said. “I really wanted to do 6-0 today. I was really looking forward to it because in DE rounds, you can get anyone and it’s not that easy.”
Fencing in his home state, this will mark Tourette’s first table of 64 appearance this season.
The two-time Junior World team medalist went 5-1 in pools to earn a bye to the preliminary table of 64, where he controlled his bout against three-time Asian Championship medalist Youngho Kwon (KOR), 15-8.
“I woke up slow. My first bout was the one I lost against a really good fencer, [Julien] Mertine, from France,” said Tourette of his start in pools. “But after that I tightened up and beat a really good Russian [Timur Arslanov] and sweep the rest of my pool, which gave me some confidence heading into the DEs. It was kind of a bummer not to go straight through because I missed it by two spots, but I still did my job in the DEs, won my bout and am happy to be moving on.”
Shin went 3-2 in pools before defeating Moritz Lechner (AUT), 15-10, in the preliminary table of 128. In the next round, he outtouched teammate Brian Kaneshige (Hoboken, N.J.), 15-14.
With a day before the table of 64, Shin will take advantage of a home Grand Prix.
“We have a day in-between, so I’m not used to the one-day break because the other times [Day 2] was right after, but I’m just going to relax, see some friends tomorrow that live in L.A. and just try to have fun.”
Competition will continue on Saturday with the women's preliminary rounds. In both the men's and women's events, the top 64 will fence for a chance at gold on Sunday.
The following athletes did not advance to the second day of competition (places indicated):
67. Brian Kaneshige (Hoboken, N.J.)
72. Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.)
76. Kenji Bravo (San Francisco, Calif.)
80. Gregory Mitberg (Beaverton, Ore.)
81. Sidarth Kumbla (San Jose, Calif.)
81. Samuel Moelis (Hewlett, N.Y.)
88. Ethan Gassner (San Francisco, Calif.)
93. James Liao (Basking Ridge, N.J.)
113. Adam Mathieu (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
118. Chase Emmer (Morristown, N.J.)
124. Andrew Chung (Yorba Linda, Calif.)
127. Joseph Marino (Rockville Centre, N.Y.)
133. Joon Paik (Norwood, N.J.)
149. Stuart Holmes (Centereach, N.Y.)
181. Shane Iverson (Basking Ridge, N.J.)