Nick Itkin celebrates his quarterfinals win against Italy's Alessio Foconi. (Photo by #BizziTeam)
CAIRO — In 2018, the same year Nick Itkin (Los Angeles) won a junior world championship in men’s foil, Italy’s Alessio Foconi earned a senior world title.
On Wednesday, the 22-year-old Itkin and 32-year-old Foconi faced off, and Itkin didn’t look a bit overwhelmed by the globe’s fourth-ranked fencer.
Itkin soundly defeated Foconi in the quarterfinals, 15-5, to secure a spot in the semifinals and guarantee another medal for Team USA at the 2022 Fencing World Championships in Egypt.
In the semifinals, Itkin battled hard against France’s Enzo Lefort but ultimately lost on a 14-14 touch that was so close it required the referee to consult the video replay for about 15 seconds.
Like Foconi, Lefort is older than Itkin and a world champion. The 30-year-old won the world title in individual men’s foil in 2019. And because Senior Worlds was not contested in 2020 or 2021, that means Lefort came in as the reigning world champion.
But Itkin gave him quite a battle and will be proud to take this big step on the world stage — losing by a single touch to the fencer who, later Wednesday evening, repeated as world champion.
The bronze is Itkin’s first career medal at a Senior Worlds.
Itkin’s medal comes a day after Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) earned bronze in the women’s foil individual event.
Those are the first individual foil medals for Team USA since 2015, when three Americans reached the medal stand in foil: Alexander Massialas (silver), Gerek Meinhardt (bronze) and Nzingha Prescod (bronze).
Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) had a strong day in Cairo on Wednesday, advancing to the round of 16 and finishing 13th. Chase Emmer (Morristown, N.J.) finished 20th at his first Senior Worlds, and Meinhardt (Lexington, Ky.) finished 28th — all strong showings in a field of 156 of the world’s best men’s foil fencers.
In women’s saber, Eliza Stone (Princeton, N.J.) advanced to the round of 16 before falling to eventual bronze medalist Despina Georgiadou of Greece, 15-9. Stone finished in 13th.
In their Senior Worlds debuts, Honor Johnson (Bethesda, Md.) finished 25th, and Tatiana Nazlymov (Bethesda, Md.) finished in 50th place.
Wednesday saw the beginning of the exciting team events, where teams of three athletes per country (plus a fourth who can be subbed in) compete across nine rounds — everyone fences everyone.
The action in fencing team events is intense and exhilarating, with each touch celebrated by teammates sitting or standing at either end of the strip. There can also be dramatic score swings as a team might build a lead, lose it and then battle back to reclaim the advantage as different combinations of fencers take the strip.
First up on Wednesday were the opening rounds of the men’s saber and women’s epee team events.
In the men’s saber team event, the quartet of Daryl Homer (New York, N.Y.), Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.), Andrew Mackiewicz (New York, N.Y.) and Kamar Skeete (Duluth, Ga.) beat Singapore before losing to China in the round of 16.
But their day wasn’t done. In team events, a loss in the round of 16 or beyond doesn’t equal elimination.
Instead, teams continue fencing for placement. Team USA was placed into a bracket to determine 9th through 16th positions. In that bracket, Team USA beat both Canada and Ukraine before losing in the 9th/10th bout against Iran. As a result, the men’s saber team finishes its tournament in 10th place of the 32 teams.
In the women’s epee team event, the squad of Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.), Margherita Guzzi Vincenti (Hartland, Wis.), Anna van Brummen (Goleta, Calif.) and Isis Washington (Parsippany, N.J.) won its first two bouts in decisive fashion, beating Chile 45-16 and Egypt 45-24 to advance to the quarterfinals against Poland. That bout begins at 4 a.m. EDT on Thursday and can be viewed live online at this link.
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.
Wanting to show their support, the four other members of the women’s epee team printed out a photo of Husisian and placed it inside the neck of a fencing jacket so they could all be in a photo together.
Get well soon, Hadley!
From left: Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.), Margherita Guzzi Vincenti (Hartland, Wis.), Hadley Husisian (Oakton, Va.), Isis Washington (Parsippany, N.J.) and Anna van Brummen (Goleta, Calif.) (Photo by #BizziTeam)
Day 7 is all about the team events. That includes:
Women's Epee (quarterfinals, semifinals, bronze medal match and finals)
First bout: Quarterfinals at 4 a.m. against Poland
Team: Kat Holmes (Washington, D.C.), Margherita Guzzi Vincenti (Hartland, Wis.), Anna van Brummen (Goleta, Calif.) and Isis Washington (Parsippany, N.J.)
Women's Foil (until the quarterfinals)
First bout: Round of 16 at 4 a.m. against the winner of Chile and Ukraine
Team: Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.), Jackie Dubrovich (Maplewood, N.J.), Maia Weintraub (Philadelphia, Pa.) and Zander Rhodes (South Orange, N.J.)