On Saturday, the final day at the 2010 World Fencing Championships in Paris, the US men’s epee team of Ben Bratton (New York, N.Y.) , Seth Kelsey (Brush Prairie, Wash.), Cody Mattern (Tigard, Ore.) and Ben Ungar (Bronx, N.Y.) pulled off one of the most stunning upsets of the entire World Cup season by defeating multiple top-seeded teams and earning the team’s first ever silver medal.
The team, seeded 12th, defeated a tough team from the Czech Republic, then China to advance to the quarterfinals, Korea to get to the semis, and the top-seeded team in the world, Hungary, to advance to the gold-medal match. There, the team fenced an exceptionally strong match against a French team which has sustained a dynasty’s worth of epee titles and lost 45-36. The result was a stunning one, for no US Men’s Epee has earned a World Championships medal.
The full release can be found at http://usfencing.org/news/2010/11/13/news-us-men-s-epee-wins-silver/39500. Following are quotes from team members regarding the day’s competition.
Men’s Epee Coach, Sebastian Dos Santos
About staying up after staging upsets of #5-seed China and #1 seed Hungary:
“That’s something we anticipated already, it was a part of the long talk we had the day before. I think they were ready to ride the ups and downs, the emotional ride we had during the day, and they were ready to fight all the way to the end of the day. All believed could we do it, the team was hungry, and as soon as we won a match, we had a quick debriefing, and went right after that into prepping mentally for the next bout. “
“What worked well all day was that as long as we were ahead, we were making sure that we were having a plan. It is easy for us usually to fall into a trap of as soon as we are ahead, just fencing reactively. We were able to make sure to be always proactive, even when we were ahead. I think that the team worked extra hard this season to create a team spirit amongst the whole program, we have done a lot of camps together, not just with this team but a handful of other guys too, and during the season we had a camp in France. I think the team spirit was the key here.”
Ben Bratton (25, New York, N.Y./NYAC)
On the spirit in the Grand Palais:
“It was a rush just to be a part of the competition. The momentum of the bout, being in the Grand Palais, I’ve never seen a venue like that in my life. It fueled us and got the best out of everybody. I didn’t want to leave that room. It was so intoxicating. I was talking to Cody [Mattern], he was saying the same thing, we just didn’t want to leave. That was definitely a factor. We’ve been to the top four before, and in the top eights, but no one was going to be satisfied with that result.”
On the turning point in the day:
“I think the toughest part of the day was the China bout. Coming out on top of that, it felt like a really big moment, that we took out China and were in the [top] eight. That was already a great result in itself, but then things really kept turning. I feel like China was a big hump for us to get over and when we did it, everyone responded. We could run with the best of the world. It was great.”
On beating the #1 seed, Hungary, in the semifinal:
“I fenced pretty well most of the day. My favorite bout was with [Hungary’s Geza] Imre. We reached a point in the match where I had a sense strategically what they were trying to do. Imre had success against me in a prior team match, and I knew he would come at me and throw everything he had at me, and so to beat a seasoned fencer like that and put the team in a good position to win was really big. I’m sure we both knew he’d some try to take the bout and the match and I just stepped up for my team and it felt really good to win that [Bratton won the encounter 12-10]. That put confidence in Cody and Seth that we’d win the final two. It was a really great moment.”
On fencing the French and moving forward:
“We could feel it in the entire venue – you could tell everyone was on their toes. We had a really strong lead, it just didn’t work out for us but we quieted the entire Gran Palais. It was a great for all of us, the sky’s the limit for us now. I know lot of teams will look at it and say it was a fluke, but our next step is to prove that we can roll with the best, and as a team, we’re among the strongest out there.”
The FIE 2010 World Fencing Championships was held in Paris, France, Nov. 4 – 13. The Federation Internationale d’Escrime, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, is the international governing body for the Olympic sport of fencing. The FIE is composed of 135 national federations, each of which is recognized by its country's Olympic Committee as the sole representative of Olympic-style fencing in that country.
For complete results see www.escrime-2010.com.