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Monumental! Team USA Fencers Sweep Gold Medals at D.C. Foil Grand Prix

03/17/2024, 9:00pm CDT
By Bryan Wendell

Lee Kiefer OLY and Nick Itkin OLY won women’s and men’s gold on Sunday, while Lauren Scruggs won her first World Cup/Grand Prix medal, a bronze.

Nick Itkin, Lauren Scruggs and Lee Kiefer show off their medals from the D.C. Foil Grand Prix. Photo by Augusto Bizzi, #BizziTeam

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a dazzling display of skill and strategy, American foilists captured both gold medals at the 2024 Absolute Fencing Gear FIE Grand Prix in Washington, D.C., marking a historic all-American triumph in the heart of the nation's capital.

Lee Kiefer OLY (Bluegrass Fencers’ Club) and Nick Itkin OLY (Los Angeles International Fencing Center) each won gold — reminding the world that they’ll be strong favorites at this summer’s Olympic Games Paris 2024.

Kiefer was joined on the medal stand by Lauren Scruggs (Peter Westbrook Foundation and Harvard University), who won bronze to secure her first career senior medal at a World Cup or Grand Prix event — a medal that solidifies her status among Team USA’s foil elite.

“I’m just shocked,” Scruggs says. “I'm so young, so I never think I’m gonna medal at these things. I was just happy to win my first DE, so I’m honestly just shocked.”

Scruggs secured the medal by winning a pressure-packed quarterfinal against Poland’s Julia Walczyk-Klimaszyk. Scruggs was down 14-13 before battling back to get the decisive touch.

“Walczyk is super good. I tend to have a lot of trouble with her, especially in the team events,” Scruggs says. “So I was a little nervous, and the whole bout I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m never gonna get her,’ but I don’t know. I just kind of locked in, and I got those last touches.”

Scruggs credits her training with the Peter Westbrook Foundation and the Fencers’ Club with helping her earn bronze.

“Thank you so much for all the support and just fencing with me, honestly,” she says to her clubmates. “I definitely feel the love and I really appreciate it. It was really cool. I don’t think I’ve really experienced something like this except for the NCAA. It was really really cool to have a huge crowd in America watching fencing.” 

Lee Kiefer in the finals. Photo by Augusto Bizzi, #BizziTeam

Kiefer Brings it Home on Home Soil

Lee Kiefer’s victory marks her 11th career gold medal at FIE senior World Cup or Grand Prix tournaments. And as luck would have it, the win comes seven years — to the day — after her gold medal at the Long Beach Grand Prix in California.

What has changed for the soon-to-be four-time Olympian? 

 “I am now one of the most experienced fencers on the circuit,” she says with a laugh. “Yeah, I'm still enjoying fencing. And I just think I'm a better fencer than I was before.”

It’s that experience that allowed Kiefer not to panic when she was down 11-2 in her quarterfinals bout or in other bouts where she had rougher patches.

“I had some mixed bouts,” she says. “I feel like some were really seamless and other ones I had to get laser focused and grind out. And honestly, once I have that, I feel like I can open up my fencing. So once I reached that point, it felt really good.”

Kiefer says she noticed a “really fun energy” thanks to the home crowd. Even after being on her feet all day, the gracious champion met with dozens of fans for selfies and autographs.

“I have never signed so many cute little autographs at the end,” she says. “It was a really fun energy.”

Nick Itkin in the finals. Photo by Augusto Bizzi, #BizziTeam

Itkin Thrives Again in Front of a Crowd

When he won silver at the World Championships in Milan last summer, Nick Itkin said he fed off the energy of a crowd that was almost exclusively cheering against him.

“I love that,” he says. “I always love that. Even at World Championships, when the crowd’s yelling, even if it was against me, I just use that. And then this time it was for me, which was even cooler.”

Indeed, Sunday’s medal came in front of another loud crowd, and Itkin gave them plenty to cheer about. Itkin looked untouchable all day, leaving little doubt in most of his bouts — winning 15-5, 15-11, 15-9, 15-4, 15-6 and 15-12.

“Honestly, after the first bout, I even told my dad I feel really, really, really good,” he says. “But yeah, that felt incredible. Like, in front of the home crowd. I couldn't ask for a better situation.”

Lauren Scruggs after her win in the quarterfinals, which secured her medal. Photo by Augusto Bizzi, #BizziTeam

Full Team USA Results from Sunday

Women’s Foil

Gold: Lee Kiefer OLY, Bluegrass Fencers' Club

Bronze: Lauren Scruggs, Peter Westbrook Foundation and Harvard University

19th: Jacqueline Dubrovich OLY, New Jersey Fencing Alliance

25th: Delphine DeVore

29th: Zander Rhodes, V Fencing Club and Columbia University

33th: Maia Weintraub, Fencers Club Inc. and Princeton University

37th: Katerina Lung, Moe Fencing Club LLC

38th: Emily Jing, Star Fencing Academy

50th: Gabrielle Grace Gebala, Silicon Valley Fencing Center

52th: Jaelyn Liu, Star Fencing Academy

58th: Alina Lee, Massialas Foundation (M Team)

59th: Sara Taffel, PISTE Fencing Academy


Men’s Foil

Gold: Nick Itkin OLY, LA International Fencing

8th: Andrew Chen, Bluegrass Fencers' Club

18th: Alexander Massialas OLY, Massialas Foundation (M Team)

19th: Gerek Meinhardt OLY, Massialas Foundation (M Team)

25th: Chase Emmer, Massialas Foundation (M Team)

44th: Bryce Louie, LA International Fencing

51th: Sidarth Kumbla, New York Athletic Club

53th: Jeidus DeSeranno, Renaissance Fencing Club

Tag(s): Updates  2024 Foil Grand Prix