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Homer, Williams, Morehouse and Spear Qualify for Olympic Games in Mens Saber

04/15/2012, 6:56am CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

(Virginia Beach, Va.) – At the conclusion of the Division I National Championships on Sunday, two members of the U.S. Men’s Saber Team that won a silver medal at the Beijing Olympic Games will be back in London and all four members of the 2012 team have hopes of winning gold.

“It’s always an honor to represent your country and winning a silver medal in Beijing really was making a dream I’d had since I was a kid come true. But no U.S. team has ever won a gold at the Olympics and I think that we have the right group of guys that can make that happen in London,” said Tim Morehouse (New York City, N.Y.) who qualified for the Games due to his results on the World Cup circuit.

James Williams (New York City, N.Y.), Morehouse’s teammate on the Beijing squad, and top-ranked U.S. fencer Daryl Homer (New York City, N.Y.) also entered Division I Nationals having already qualified for London.

Qualification for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team began in May of 2011 and concluded at the Nationals this weekend where the top three athletes on the USA Fencing National Point Rankings at the end of the event would earn nominations to the U.S. Olympic Team to compete in both the individual and team events. The fourth athlete would be the replacement athlete who is eligible to compete in the team event. All nominations are subject to confirmation by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Although all three individual fencers already qualified, the fourth replacement athlete position remained open and both 2011 Pan Am Team member Jeff Spear (Wyantskill, N.Y.) and 2011 Senior World Team member Ben Igoe (Staten Island, N.Y.) were eligible for the position.

Spear was ranked fourth and Igoe fifth coming into the weekend where Igoe needed to win gold to pass Spear and take the replacement athlete slot.

When Morehouse, Homer and Williams each finished the pool, 1-2-3, however, it became obvious that Igoe’s road to London would involve needing to upset each of the top four athletes on Sunday.

After a table of 32 win over Donovan Deans (Tempe, Ariz.), 15-6, Homer led the bout against Igoe, 14-11 in the table of 16.

With one touch left for Homer to win the bout, Igoe reeled off four straight touches to upset Homer, 15-14, and stay eligible for London.

“It felt nice, definitely, to have already qualified before today,” Homer said. “It was a better coming in qualified than having to come in and still fight for a slot. But it was actually a little difficult. Looking back, I wish that I hadn’t fenced this tournament because I would have stayed home and just trained, trained, trained, but, now that I’m here and I lost, I’m thinking about how I did here rather than on the big picture.”

In the head-to-head bout saber fans were waiting for, Igoe met Spear in the quarter-finals where he earned the win, 15-4.

Igoe’s run came to an end, however, when Williams won their semifinal bout, 15-8, and Spear retained his position in the rankings and a trip to the Games.

Williams went on to meet Morehouse in the gold medal bout where he broke away from a 10-10 tie to win the bout, 15-10, and earn his first Division I National Championship title.

“This was the most relaxed I have ever felt at a national competition and I’ve been doing these for 14 years. [Coach] Yury [Gelman] and I spoke a lot about my mental approach to the competition and it was very helpful,” Williams said.

With his goal of competing at a second Games realized, Williams said he is now turning his focus to preparation for London.  

“It is really great.  I am happy to have accomplished a difficult goal. But, at the same time, my focus is on the team event on August 3rd and I am working to keep it in perspective and stay focused for the next 110 or so days,” Williams said.

Williams, Morehouse, Homer and Spear were all on the team that broke the seven-year World Cup drought in March when they won the silver medal at the Moscow World Cup last month.

“I think I’ve always felt that, if we connected in the right way, that we could show good results. I’m happy to see it’s finally happening now,” Homer said. “I definitely think we have a lot of work to do if we want to win a gold medal or, really, any medal. I think we have a lot of preparation, a lot of work we have to do as a group. Everyone has to stay motivated. Everyone has to have their eyes on the prize.”

Homer said the 2008 Olympic Team’s silver medal has served as a reminder that anything can happen at the Olympic Games.

“Keeth Smart was a big inspiration for me at the last Games. I remember sitting and watching it at my friend’s house and was like ‘Woah! Holy crap! This guy is amazing.’” Homer said of the U.S. Team’s opening win in Beijing. “I couldn’t believe what was happening in front of me. Especially since I saw the U.S. team lose to Hungary, 45-25, the tournament before the Olympic Games and watching them win was just amazing.”

Although no U.S. man has ever won gold in fencing, Homer said he has hopes of reaching his dream in both the individual and team event which includes 32 or fewer fencers.

“I want to go for a gold medal individually. I’m 14th in the world now and I want to kind of point to the fact that, at the last few Olympic Games, people who are ranked 20th or 40th in the world have medaled,” Homer said. “It’s all about your mentality for that day. I’ve put a lot of work into my mental preparation and I’ve kind of been working on minimizing my mistakes and working on my mental game. At the end of the day, it’s anyone’s game. It’s a tournament with 30 people and, especially with my type of fencing, if I catch fire, anything’s possible.”

While Homer has fenced in the traditional World Cup and World Championship format that includes two days of competition and as many as eight wins needed to make it to the end, he said he is looking forward to a shorter, but challenging, schedule.

“I love it. Four bouts and I’m in the medal rounds and, once you’re there, it’s a whole different tournament. It’s like NCAAs for me [a tournament with 23 pool bouts to make the medal rounds]. You go through hell get there, but, after those four bouts, I have the opportunity to obtain my life’s goal and show everyone it’s possible,” Homer said.

Top eight men’s foil results are as follows:

Division I Men’s Individual Saber
1. James Williams (New York City, N.Y.)
2. Tim Morehouse (New York City, N.Y.)
3. Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.)
3. Ben Igoe (Staten Island, N.Y.)
5. Valentin Staller (East Setauket, N.Y.)
6. Jeff Spear (Wyantskill, N.Y.)
7. Mihail Etropolski (Floral Park, N.Y.)
8. Will Spear (Wyantskill, N.Y.)

Nominees to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Fencing Team for men’s foil are as follows:

1. Daryl Homer (New York City, N.Y.)
2. Tim Morehouse (New York City, N.Y.)
3. James Williams (New York City, N.Y.)
Replacement Athlete: Jeff Spear (Wyantskill, N.Y.)

Tag(s): News  Daryl Homer  Jeff Spear