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U.S. Men’s Foil Team Finishes Olympic Games in Fourth

08/05/2012, 8:49am CDT
By No Author

The reoccurring theme for the U.S. Men’s Foil Team at this Games was youth and the squad’s status as the underdogs of the Games...

(London) – The reoccurring theme for the U.S. Men’s Foil Team at this Games was youth and the squad’s status as the underdogs of the Games.

As the youngest team in the competition with athletes ranging in age from 18-22, Team USA came to London with something to prove and the American men ended the Games with Team USA’s fourth top-four finish of the nine-day fencing event.

On Sunday, 19-year-old Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 18-year-old Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) and 21-year-old Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa. / New York City, N.Y.) opened the quarter-final bout against France – the 2011 Senior World silver medalists.

With France up, 15-12, against the Americans after the third bout, replacement athlete Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) was substituted in for Chamley-Watson.

Per Olympic rules, the substitution meant that Meinhardt would remain in the lineup for the remainder of the competition.

By the end of the sixth bout, Team USA trailed France by six touches, 30-24, when Meinhardt took the strip against Victor Sintes who defeated both Meinhardt and Imboden en route to taking the bronze in the individual event at the 2011 Senior Worlds.

Meinhardt went on a 9-0 run against Sintes and put Team USA up, 35-31.

“I’ve never beaten him in individual, but I see that as I just needed more experience. I was in the driver’s seat because he had the pressure on him. He’s always beaten me and they were counting on that going into it and I felt confident and I wanted it a lot more,” Meinhardt said. “I was getting the lights. Even when I wasn’t, I was getting the remise. I felt like I controlled the match and was able to take advantage of it to give us the lead.”

Imboden kept up the momentum for Team USA with a 5-1 win over Enzo Lefort to set up Massialas with a 40-32 lead going into the final bout.

Massialas held off Erwan Le Pechoux to win the match, 45-39.

“We all pulled together. We all had each other’s backs. We were the ones with the energy. I think there was that big swing bout with Gerek. I think he fenced amazing against Sintes. I don’t think he’s ever beaten Sintes in a 15-touch bout, but he came out and did his thing. From there, I had a great bout to give the lead to Alex and he was able to close it out,” Imboden said.

In the semifinals, Team USA met Italy – the two-time reigning Olympic Champions. Although Team USA defeated the Italians at the La Coruna World Cup in February, Italy came prepared with a full lineup of World and Olympic medalists and took the match win, 45-24.

“We tried our best to do the right things, but, in the end, it’s a testament to their whole team to be able to come out today and really fence their strongest. Today was their day and, unfortunately, we just couldn’t make it happen,” Massialas said.

After a four-hour break, Team USA took the strip for the bronze medal match against a German team led by four-time Senior World Champion Peter Joppich.

Germany dominated the start of the match and came out with a 20-5 lead after the first four bouts.

Massialas took a 6-5 win over Benjamin Kleibrink in the next bout to cut the Germans’ lead to 12.

German Sebastian Bachmann was injured during the seventh bout with Meinhardt and was replaced with Andre Wessels who took the win, 5-3.

Kleibrink and Joppich won the next two bouts over Imboden and Massialas by scores of 5-3 each to end the day with a 45-27 score and a bronze medal for Germany.

“I don’t think any of our guys at any point let go. We always keep fighting even when we’re down. That’s just how we are. We were the young guys here, but we’re looking ahead to the next few years and we’re only going to get stronger,” Imboden said.

Meinhardt said that Team USA struggled to catch up against Germany after losing the early bouts.

“We thought we were prepared going into it. We’re the young team. We’re the underdogs. Germany was the favorite and we just wanted to go out with as much intensity and energy as we can, but, unfortunately, we let it get away from us. It’s hard to come back against veterans who are experienced like that. But I’m really excited about our future and looking forward to enjoying the rest of our Games,” Meinhardt said.

At just 18-years-old, Massialas is the youngest male member of the U.S. Olympic Team across all sports and said that the lessons learned in London will help him in preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“It’s a great experience being out here with the crowd and everything. It’s a really surreal experience and hopefully I’ll be back here in four more years to get a medal,” Massialas said. “The people have been great. The Village has been awesome. The crowd out there when you’re fencing has been amazing. One of my teammates was saying earlier that the worst thing about being knocked out in the individual was that you couldn’t go back out on that stage. Fencing out there in front of everyone where the whole world can see you has been a pleasure of mine and hopefully next time I’ll be able to do a little bit better.”

Top eight results are as follows:

Olympic Games Men’s Team Foil
1. Italy
2. Japan
3. Germany
4. USA
5. Russia
6. Great Britain
7. China
8. France

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