(Catania, Italy) – As the U.S. Men’s Foil Team’s only first-time Senior World Team member, Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.) may have come into this event as a relative unknown to many of his international opponents, but his eighth place debut finish on Wednesday showed that he will be one of the athletes to watch in the race to the podium at the London Olympic Games.
On a squad that includes two athletes (notably, both under 22-years-old) who placed in the top five at this event last year, one might think the team’s rookie would be enjoying his first time experience with no expectations.
And, while Imboden will tell you he’s enjoyed being at the Senior Worlds, he’ll also tell you he had the same goal as his more seasoned teammates – to win a medal.
While 2010 World medalist Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) and 2010 fifth-place finisher Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa.) both earned exemptions from competing in the preliminary rounds due to their top-16 world rankings, Imboden went undefeated in the pools on Monday to earn a #19 seed in the event.
After Chamley-Watson lost his bout in the table of 64 to Leszek Rajski (POL), 15-11, Imboden met Rajski in the table of 32 and won the bout, 15-7.
In the table of 16, Imboden trailed four-time Senior World Champion Peter Joppich (GER) by four points (10-6). On the next touch, the score was initially given to Joppich, but the call was reversed and awarded to Race to bring the score to 10-7. Although Joppich earned the following touch, Imboden scored four in a row to tie the bout at 11.
Imboden pulled ahead to a 14-13 lead and jumped into the air as he celebrated the victory. Within 30 seconds, however, the call was overturned on video replay.
“I thought I got the parry reposte. I thought it was good for sure. I celebrated. I thought it was over and I guess on the replay it didn’t look so good and they reversed it. Actually, they didn’t reverse it. They called it null and void at the touch. They said on the replay they couldn’t see if it was one parry or two parries. So they just called it out,” Imboden said.
Joppich scored the next touch to tie the bout at 14, but it was Imboden who scored the final touch. As he celebrated his win for the second time, replay was called again, but, after a minute of review, the touch was awarded to Imboden who was relieved to have finally secured a trip to the quarter-finals.
“I made an attack and missed and then he tried to counter with a parry reposte and he completely airballed and then I hit him so two lights and then they replayed it and it was good so I celebrated again,” Imboden said.
Although the end of the bout was raucous and Imboden was on the largest stage he has ever seen, the 2011 Junior World team gold medalist said he tried to treat the day’s bouts like any other.
“I try to just keep it all the same. Concentrate on myself, not my opponent. I just try to keep it mentally all the same, whether it’s junior, senior, cadet, whatever. It was loud, though. It was really loud out there every bout,” Imboden said.
In the next bout, Imboden met Victor Sintes (FRA). During the Frenchman’s previous bout, he defeated Meinhardt, 15-9, in the table of 16 and left the American with a 13th place finish – his best international result since undergoing knee surgery nine months ago.
In a fast-paced second period, Sintes outscored Imboden, 15-11, to win the bout.
“Sintes is good. He’s been around for a really long time. He’s a really strong competitor and he got me on this one. He did everything he needed to do and I made some mistakes, but he got me on this one,” said Imboden who finished eighth overall. “It’s my best result ever and what a place to do it at my first World Champs.”
Earlier in the day, Imboden’s teammate Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) finished 23rd – the best result at a Senior Worlds for the 2011 Junior World silver medalist and Cadet World Champion.
After a 15-11 win in the table of 64 over Rene Pranz (AUT), Massialas lost a 14-13 bout in overtime to 2010 Junior World Champion Alaaeldin Mohamed El Sayed Abouelkassem (EGY).
The U.S. Men’s Foil Team will return to competition on Sunday where the squad will attempt to improve on its ninth place finish at the 2010 Senior Worlds.
“We’re all fencing well. We have guys like Miles and Gerek who are really experienced and we’re the highest we’ve ever been ranked going in, so it’s a place for us to prove ourselves,” Imboden said.
In the women’s epee event, Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) earned her best finish at a Senior Worlds since 2007 when she advanced to the table of 32 and placed 27th overall.
Hurley, a six-time Senior World Team member, won her opening bout, 15-5, against Yun-Hee Oh (KOR), but lost in the table of 32 to Li Na (CHN), 15-13, before Na went on to win gold.
Competing at the Senior Worlds for the first time since 2007, Maya Lawrence (Teaneck, N.J.) earned a win for the second time this season against 2004 Olympic silver medalist Laura Flessel-Colovic (FRA). Lawrence dominated the beginning of the bout as she built a 9-4 lead. Although Flessel-Colovic made a late comeback, Lawrence pulled out the win, 15-14.
In the next round, however, Lawrence lost to Sarah Daninthe (FRA), 15-11, to finish 31st.
Lindsay Campbell (Brooklyn, N.Y.) finished 56th after a 15-8 loss to Simona Alexandru (ROU) in the table of 64.
Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) finished 86th earlier in the week after losing in the preliminary tables on Monday.
Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:
Men’s Individual Foil
1. Andrea Cassara (ITA)
2. Valerio Aspromonte (ITA)
3. Victor Sintes (FRA)
3. Giorgio Avola (ITA)
5. Alaaeldin Mohamed El Sayed Abouelkassem (EGY)
6. Alexey Cheremisinov (RUS)
7. Byung Chul Choi (KOR)
8. Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
13. Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)
23. Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
33. Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Women’s Individual Epee
1. Na Li (CHN)
2. Yujie Sun (CHN)
3. Ana Branza (ROU)
3. Anca Maroiu (ROU)
5. Magdalena Piekarska (POL)
6. Simona Alexandru (ROU)
7. Monika Sozanska (GER)
8. Lam Shin A (KOR)
27. Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
31. Maya Lawrence (Teaneck, N.J.)
56. Lindsay Campbell (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
86. Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
The competition schedule for the remainder of the week is as follows:
Friday, Oct. 14 – Team Competition
Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.)
Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.)
Doris Willette (Lafayette, Calif.)
Daryl Homer (New York City, N.Y.)
Ben Igoe (Staten Island, N.Y.)
Tim Morehouse (New York City, N.Y.)
James Williams (New York City, N.Y.)
Saturday, Oct. 15 – Team Competition
Ben Bratton (New York City, N.Y.)
Seth Kelsey (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Cody Mattern (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Soren Thompson (New York City, N.Y.)
Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)
Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
Sunday, Oct. 16 - Team Competition
Lindsay Campbell (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
Maya Lawrence (Teaneck, N.J.)
Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa)
Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)
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