Lee Kiefer celebrates her victory over Japan's Yuka Ueno in the quarterfinals — a win that guaranteed Kiefer a medal. (Photo by #BizziTeam)
CAIRO — Down 11-4 just 90 seconds into her semifinal bout, Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) could’ve gotten discouraged. But that’s just not in the DNA of an Olympic champion.
Kiefer kept fighting, battling back and remaining confident against the quick-moving Arianna Errigo, a former saber fencer whose foil resume includes three Olympic medals and 18 Senior World Championships medals, including two golds in the individual event.
Just 90 seconds after she was down 11-4, Kiefer had rebounded in a big way, taking a 14-13 lead into the one-minute break. Errigo tied the bout at 14 before landing the decisive touch, leaving Kiefer with a bronze medal. (In individual fencing competitions — other than the Olympics — there is no bronze medal match, meaning there are two bronze medalists in each event.)
Kiefer’s bronze medal Tuesday at the 2022 Fencing World Championships in Egypt is the first individual medal for Team USA at a Senior Worlds since 2018.
That year in China, Team USA picked up three individual medals: a silver for Eli Dershwitz (men’s saber), a bronze for Eliza Stone (women’s saber) and a bronze for Courtney Hurley (women’s epee).
Kiefer’s bronze in Cairo is also the first individual medal in foil for Team USA since 2015, when three Americans reached the medal stand: Alexander Massialas (silver), Gerek Meinhardt (bronze) and Nzingha Prescod (bronze).
The close semifinal loss marked the end of a phenomenal day for Kiefer and the entire Team USA women’s foil team. Kiefer won her first three bouts 15-5, 15-6 and 15-5 — a dominant run that was nearly matched by her quarterfinals opponent, Japan’s Yuka Ueno. Ueno won her first three bouts Tuesday by scores of 15-7, 15-7 and 15-5.
In a closely watched contest, Kiefer beat Ueno 15-12 to send Kiefer to the semifinals and guarantee her a place on the medal stand.
On the other side of the bracket, Maia Weintraub (Philadelphia, Pa.) was having her own special day. After winning in the round of 64, Weintraub faced a daunting challenge against Italy’s Alice Volpi, a five-time medalist at Senior Worlds and the woman who entered the tournament ranked No. 2 in the world (behind Kiefer).
Seemingly unfazed by the moment, Weintraub looked poised and confident throughout the bout, upsetting Volpi in a 15-13 finish that was greeted by raucous cheers from her USA teammates watching from nearby. While she lost in the round of 16 to Japan’s Sera Azuma, Weintraub had a Senior Worlds debut she won’t forget, finishing 14th.
In other women’s foil action for Team USA, Jackie Dubrovich (Maplewood, N.J.) and Zander Rhodes (South Orange, N.J.) each won their round of 64 bouts before falling in tight contests in the round of 32.
The women's foil world championship was ultimately won by Ysaora Thibus of France, who is coached by her partner Race Imboden, a four-time Senior Worlds medalist for Team USA.
Over in men’s epee, Team USA’s Yeisser Ramirez (Flushing, N.Y.) lost in the round of 64 to Hungary’s Mate Tamas Koch, 14-11.
The men's epee world championship was also won by a French fencer — Romain Cannone.
Day 6 brings a packed schedule with medals awarded in the final two individual events — women's saber and men's foil — in addition to the start of the team competition in women's epee and men's saber.
In the individual events, 64 athletes remain in each weapon, and they'll fence a single-elimination bracket until a world champion is crowned.
In men's foil, all four Team USA fencers qualified for the round of 64. That's Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.), Chase Emmer (Morristown, N.J.), Gerek Meinhardt (Lexington, Ky.) and Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.). Competition in that event begins at 5 a.m. EDT.
In women's saber, three Team USA athletes remain: Eliza Stone (Princeton, N.J.), Tatiana Nazlymov (Bethesda, Md.) and Honor Johnson (Bethesda, Md.). Their round of 64 starts at 4 a.m. EDT.
The men's saber and women's epee team events start even earlier — 2 a.m. EDT and 2:30 a.m. EDT, respectively.
The men's saber team includes:
The women's epee team includes:
Hadley Husisian (Oakton, Va.) traveled to Cairo and was scheduled to compete in both the individual and team events, but she tested positive for COVID and has been rooting on Team USA from in quarantine. Isis Washington stepped up to fill Husisian's spot.