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Eli Dershwitz Places Fifth at Senior Worlds

07/19/2019, 3:30pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Eli Dershwitz placed fifth in the third tournament of the Olympic qualifying season. Photo Credit: #BizziTeam


Kat Holmes placed in the top 32 in the women's epee event alongside teammates Kelley and Courtney Hurley. Photo Credit: Nicole Jomantas

(Budapest, Hungary) – The quest for a second Senior World medal came to an end one round early for 2018 silver medalist Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.) at this year’s edition of the event on Thursday.

2019 Senior World Championships Live Results

Exempt from pool rounds as the No. 1 fencer in the world, Dershwitz went on a 5-2 run to close the opening period at 8-5 before winning the bout, 15-7, in the second period.

In the table of 32, William Deary (GBR) put Dershwitz in the unexpected position of being down by four in the second with Deary up, 11-7. Dershwitz responded with seven straight touches to take a 14-11 lead. Although he gave up two more, the Rio Olympian held on to take the bout, 15-13.

Dershwitz fenced Csanad Gemesi (HUN) in front of a roaring home crowd in the table of 16 shortly after Gemesi’s win over 2004 Olympic Champion Aldo Montano (ITA) at 15-14 in the 32. With the Hungarian holding a 3-1 lead in the first period, Dershwitz went on a 7-3 run to close the period at 8-6 before winning the bout, 15-8.  

Dershwitz’s next opponent, Andras Szatmari (HUN), not only had the backing of the home crowd behind him, but had upset 2018 Senior World bronze medalist Junho Kim (KOR) and 2014 Senior World Champion Veniamin Reshetnikov (RUS) in the previous rounds. While Dershwitz took an 8-6 lead after the first, Szatmari had the momentum his side quickly when one touch suddenly became six in a row and the Hungarian built a 12-8 lead. Szatmari pulled further ahead at 14-10 and, though Dershwitz took two, Szatmari ended the bout with a 15-12 victory before going on to win silver.

“It was a tough matchup. I’ve fenced him so many times throughout my career and I felt pretty confident because I beat him at the last World Cup of the season,” said Dershwitz who finishes the season ranked No. 2 in the world. “He was fencing really well. I thought I was fencing ok, but, obviously, to get a world medal, you need to be more than ok.”

Dershwitz is now the first U.S. men’s saber fencer to advance to the quarter-finals at the Senior Worlds twice in his career, but the well-wishing that came after the result made the loss even more challenging.

“I’m not happy with how I performed or how I finished, so it’s even tougher to have people congratulating you … it makes it sting even more,” Dershwitz said after the loss. “Having people tell you ‘Oh you did a good job’ when you don’t think you did enough is one of the hardest things to deal with as an athlete, but it does provide motivation to get back to training. We still have the team event and I’m looking forward to that and looking forward to coming back stronger next season. Obviously, the Olympics is the focus, so I’m just going to keep training hard, fix some mistakes and come back better next time.”

Dershwitz’s three teammates each placed in the top 64 with 2016 Olympic silver medalist Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.) coming in as exempt with a top-16 world ranking and both Khalil Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.) and Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.) advancing through the pool and preliminary rounds on Monday.

Homer led his table of 64 bout against Hansol Ha (KOR), 8-7, at the break, but Ha came back and tied the bout first at 10 and then at 11 before closing with a 4-1 run to take the bout, 15-12.

Fencing at his first World Championships, Thompson drew Tiberiu Dolniceanu (ROU), a bronze medalist at the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Senior Worlds, in the table of 64. Thompson nearly upset the Romanian during a prior bout at the Seoul Grand Prix in April and was determined to do so in Hungary. The Romanian led the bout, 8-7, at the break, but it was Thompson who tied the score first at 10 and took a 13-11 lead. Dolniceanu scored three straight to push the score to 14-13. Although Thompson replied with another touch, Dolniceanu grabbed the last score for a 15-14 win.

Spear, a London Olympian, never gained traction in his bout against Reshetnikov who held an 8-2 lead at the break and closed at 15-4.  

In the women’s epee event, Olympians Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas), Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) and Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.) each went 1-1 on the day to earn top-32 finishes. Both Hurleys were exempt from pools while Holmes advanced through the pool rounds.

The first U.S. fencer ever to win an individual epee medal at the Senior Worlds when she won bronze last year, Courtney fenced a cautious first period against Yana Botvinik (ISR) with a 6-5 lead before pulling away to 13-8 going into the third. She then took two more singles to end the bout at 15-8.

Although Courtney controlled the beginning of her next bout against Alberta Santuccio (ITA) with a 3-2 lead after the first period, the Italian went 6-2 to end the second to steal the lead at 8-5. Courtey cut her opponent’s lead to one at 13-12, but Santuccio scored a pair of singles to win the bout, 15-12.

Kelley Hurley took a 4-3 lead over Barbara Rutz (POL) after the first period, but Rutz got hit with a P card when neither fencer scored within the first minute of the next period. Both fencers picked up the pace, but it was Kelley whose attacks were more effective as she scored five straight singles to end the second up 9-3. Kelley controlled the third period as well, outscoring her opponent, 6-4, for a 15-7 victory.

In the 32, she fenced Hyein Lee (KOR) who took out 2012 Olympic Champion Yana Shemyakina (UKR), 15-11. Lee had a breakaway second period in her bout against the elder Hurley, pulling away from 6-4 to end with a 15-7 victory in the second.

Holmes held off a comeback attempt by Amalia Tataran (ROU) in the table of 64, scoring two singles to end the bout at 15-12.

She went on to fence No. 8 seed Youngmi Kang (KOR) in the 32, keeping within a touch or two throughout the three periods as Kang led 3-1 after the first and 5-3 after the second. With 11 seconds on the clock, Holmes was given a P card and Kang’s lead went from 7-6 to 8-6. Holmes took a single with five seconds on the clock and another at 3.9 to send the bout to overtime. Unfortunately, however, Kang scored first and won the bout, 9-8.

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows, including fencers who placed outside the top 64 on Monday:  

Men’s Individual Saber Senior World Championships
1. Sanguk Oh (KOR)
2. Andras Szatmari (HUN)
3. Mojtaba Abedini (IRI)
3. Luca Curatoli (ITA)
5. Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.)
6. Max Hartung (GER)
7. Konstantin Lokhanov (RUS)
8. Shaul Gordon (CAN)

34. Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.)
48. Khalil Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)
57. Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.)

Women’s Individual Epee Senior World Championships
1. Nathalie Moellhausen (BRA)
2. Sheng Lin (CHN)
3. Man Wai Vivian Kong (HKG)
3. Olena Kryvytska (UKR)
5. Coraline Vitalis (FRA)
6. Young Mi Kang (KOR)
7. Lis Rottler-Fautsch (LUX)
8. Hyein Lee (KOR)

19. Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
21. Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
25. Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.)
115. Kasia Nixon (Los Angeles, Calif.)

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