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2024 Junior and Cadet Worlds, Foil Recap: Team USA Secures Four Medals, Including Two Golds

04/14/2024, 3:15pm CDT
By Bryan Wendell

At the 2024 Junior & Cadet Fencing World Championships, Team USA wins its second consecutive Junior Men’s Foil title, while Jaelyn Liu secures Cadet Women’s Foil gold.

Photos by #BizziTeam

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Sometimes, the difference between a world title and an early exit comes down to a single touch.

In the Junior Men’s Foil Team quarterfinals on Sunday at the 2024 Junior & Cadet Fencing World Championships in Saudi Arabia, Team USA trailed 37-35 entering the ninth and final leg.

It was Samarth Kumbla (Silicon Valley Fencing Center and Columbia University) for Team USA facing Team GB’s Jaimie Cook. When the three-minute final period began, Cook scored the first two points to extend the GB lead to 39-35.

The Great Britain lead had grown to 43-38 with just 52 seconds left. With 34 seconds to go, that lead was at 44-40 — with no room for error on the part of Kumbla.

Refusing to quit, Kumbla battled back for the next four touches before time expired and the teams went to sudden-death priority overtime. In that extra period, Kumbla and Cook each saw their lights turn on, with the referee awarding the touch to Kumbla and Team USA.

“I was down, but I just wanted to maintain focus and stay composed,” Kumbla says. “And I ended up pulling through.”

There was less drama in the two final matches, with Team USA winning the semifinals against Japan and the finals against Italy by healthy margins of 10 points or more, securing the world championship for Team USA.

It was a repeat performance of 2023’s Junior Men’s Foil Team event, also a Team USA win over Italy in the gold medal match. That 2023 team featured three members of the 2024 team: Kumbla, Andrew Chen (Bluegrass Fencers' Club) and Daniel Zhang (Star Fencing Academy, Harvard University). They were joined by Chase Emmer (Massialas Foundation (M Team) and University Of Notre Dame).

"It was a hard fought day the whole time," Emmer says. "We fought as a team throughout the day, and now we're world champions."

Both teams are coached by Greg Massialas.

A day earlier, on Saturday, Jaelyn Liu (Star Fencing Academy and Fencing Institute Of Texas) won the Cadet Women’s Foil title, becoming Team USA’s first world champion in the event since 2019 (Lauren Scruggs).

“This means a lot to me and to my family, because I just wanted to prove to myself that I did something great and I should be proud of it,” Liu says. “I'm really proud.”

Also on Saturday, Jeidus Deseranno (Renaissance Fencing Club) had a promising debut at his first Junior & Cadet Worlds, winning Cadet Men’s Foil silver.

“I've been striving to qualify for this event for years,” he says, “and at my first World Championships, to take the silver medal, is truly an amazing experience.”

On Friday in Junior Foil competition, Kumbla followed up his 2023 Junior Men's Foil bronze with a matching medal for 2024. Competing in the first event out of the gate challenged Kumbla in many ways — especially because Riyadh time is 10 hours ahead of California.

“I think it was just staying in it a mentally,” he says. “Keeping focus every single bout, starting the bout strong and staying strong throughout the bout. I feel a little tired, but I’m happy with the result.”

Photo by #BizziTeam

Photo by #BizziTeam

Photo by #BizziTeam

Tag(s): Updates  2024 Jr/Cdt Worlds