CAIRO — Now that’s how you end an already stellar tournament with an exclamation point.
On the ninth and final day of competition at the 2022 Fencing World Championships, the Team USA men’s foil team earned silver, adding a fourth medal to the Americans’ impressive haul at the globe’s most prestigious fencing tournament.
The feat is made even more spectacular by what it took to even get to the finals.
In the semifinals against France, which entered the tournament as the world’s second-ranked men’s foil team, the Americans got off to a slow start. After four of the nine rounds were complete, Team USA trailed 20-14, and momentum seemed squarely with the French.
That’s when Chase Emmer (Morristown, N.J.) stepped up.
Staring him down behind the tricolor mask of France was Enzo Lefort, who just three days earlier had won a world championship in men’s foil.
Lefort is 30, and Emmer is 18.
But this time, Emmer got the better of the three-time Olympian, outscoring Lefort 9-5.
That big number cut France’s lead to 25-23. After Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) and France’s Pierre Loisel each scored five touches, Emmer returned to the strip again.
This time, the matchup was against Maximilien Chastanet, who won the 2016 NCAA championship with Ohio State.
Again, Emmer — who will attend Notre Dame this fall — outscored his more experienced opponent. The 7-4 round for Emmer gave the Americans a 35-34 lead after seven rounds.
The eighth round went to Notre Dame graduate Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.), 5-4, extending Team USA’s lead to 40-38 entering the final round.
France had chosen Lefort for its anchor leg, with Team USA sending Massialas to the strip.
In the race to 45, Massialas didn’t need to win the round. He just needed to score five points before Lefort could score seven.
After an exciting stretch of back-and-forth fencing, Lefort established a 44-43 lead. France needed just one more touch to send Team USA to the bronze medal match.
Massialas tied it at 44. Then, with Team USA fans holding their collective breath, Massialas bent low and leaned to his right to score a touch that evaded Lefort’s defenses. The green light went on, the touch was confirmed by video review, and Team USA erupted with excitement — knowing that another medal was confirmed.
In the gold medal match against top-ranked Italy, Team USA’s bid for another upset fell short in the 45-39 loss. It was an identical scenario to the one from 24 hours earlier, when the Team USA women’s foil team upset France in the semifinals and lost to Italy in the finals.
The silver medal is the first medal at a Senior Worlds for Emmer. Itkin now has two — a bronze from the individual event three days earlier and this medal in the team event.
For Massialas and Gerek Meinhardt (Lexington, Ky.), the performance in Cairo is the continuation of a storied international career. Massialas has six Senior Worlds medals, and Meinhardt has seven.
In addition to gold in the team event in 2019, they earned silver medals in the team event together in 2013, 2017 and 2018.
Massialas also has an individual silver from 2015 and Meinhardt a pair of bronzes — in 2010 and 2015.
It must be pointed out that this was quite a tournament for Team USA’s foil teams, led by Men’s Foil National Coach Greg Massialas and Women’s Foil National Coach Ralf Bissdorf. Team USA medaled in all four foil events in Cairo.
Silver: Women’s Foil — Team
Silver: Men’s Foil — Team
Bronze: Women’s Foil
Bronze: Men’s Foil
The men's foil team has now medaled in six consecutive Olympic Games or World Championships: 2016 Olympics, 2017 Worlds, 2018 Worlds, 2019 Worlds, 2021 Olympics and 2022 Worlds.
The tournament concludes with four medals for Team USA — its best performance at a Fencing World Championships since 2018.
While the athletes receive the medals, there's an entire team working behind the scenes to support their success on the strip.
That includes the national coaches as well as the cadre, which supports Team USA in a number of key ways.
The cadre for the 2022 Fencing World Championships included Felicia Zimmerman, chief of mission; Dagmara Wozniak, team captain; Dr. Peggy Chin, director of sports medicine; Kaitlyn Litten, national teams manager; Liz Morey, armorer; Adam Thompson, sports med provider; Dr. Richard Chang, sports med provider; and Stephanie Weston, sports med provider.
Also, a number of Americans worked behind the scenes to make sure the tournament’s schedule, scoring and video replays worked smoothly.
That includes Madison Haughie and Dan Berke with Fencing Time, who ran the tournament software, keeping everyone — in the venue and around the world — updated on the latest results. Micheal Barnum and David Blake with Absolute Fencing Gear managed the scoring machines and strips — including the high-tech finals strip that illuminated green or red whenever a valid touch was scored.
With the FIE (the International Fencing Federation), Dr. Jeremy Summers served on the Medical Commission. Jennifer Yamin served on the Directoire Technique, or DT, which runs the competition itself. And past USA Fencing president Don Anthony served in his role on the FIE’s Executive Committee.
Laura Decker was the lone American referee at the 2022 Fencing World Championships, and her assignments included the gold medal match in the women’s saber team event.