Five Americans Qualify for Inaugural Youth Olympic Games
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Five teenage American fencers will board a plane for Singapore for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, Aug. 14-26. Head Coach Sergey Isayenko leads the U.S. delegation into the fencing venue, the International Convention Centre. Fencers aged 15-17 will compete in boys and girl’s epee, foil and saber from Aug. 15-18. There will also be a mixed team competition featuring boys and girls in all weapons.
Team USA includes:
Katharine Holmes (Washington, D.C.) - Women’s Epee
Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) - Men’s Foil
Celina Merza (Wayne, N.J.) - Women’s Saber
Mona Shaito (Garland, Texas) - Women’s Foil
Will Spear (Wyantskill, N.Y.) - Men’s Saber
“It is a great honor both to have qualified and to be able to represent the United States, competing in the first ever Youth Olympic Games,” Holmes said. “I am really looking forward to meeting all the other athletes in Singapore. It should be an amazing experience.”
The U.S. did not qualify a spot in the men’s epee competition. Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) qualified for women’s foil but is unable to fence due to school obligations. The 16-year-old Shaito was the first alternate. The fencers qualified during the Junior/Cadet World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.
“I have dreamed about the Olympics since I was 7 years old,” Merza said. “The Youth Olympic Games give me an opportunity to live a part of my dream and I’m even more determined to continue to strive to make it to the Olympics in the future. I am excited about meeting new people and hope to return with a medal, making this experience an even more unforgettable one.”
All five American fencers competed in the U.S. Fencing Summer National Championships in Atlanta, Ga., July 4-13. Massialas won the Division 1 national championship and finished second in the Senior Team Foil event. Spear and his teammates from Manhattan Fencing won the Under 19 Team Saber national championship. Spear won the silver medal in Under 19 individual saber and took bronze in Senior Team saber.
“Being able to participate in the first ever Youth Olympics and representing my country is an incredible honor and experience I will never forget,” Shaito said.
Merza won two silver medals at Summer Nationals, competing with Bergen Fencing Club in the Senior and Under 19 team saber events. Holmes placed 10th in Under 19 epee and 17th in Division 1 epee. Shaito earned a silver medal in Under 16 foil and a bronze medal in Under 19 foil.
To learn more about the first Youth Olympic Games, visit http://www.singapore2010.sg.
About U.S. Fencing Association: The United States Fencing Association (USFA) is the recognized NGB for the sport of fencing in the United States. The USFA was founded in 1891 as the Amateur Fencers League of America (AFLA) by a group of New York fencers seeking independence from the Amateur Athletic Union. The AFLA changed its name to the United States Fencing Association in 1981. The USFA is affiliated with the Féderation Internationale d'Escrime (FIE), the international federation for fencing founded in Paris in 1913. The USFA was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in Pennsylvania in 1964 and in Colorado in 1993 in compliance with the Amateur Sports Act and opened its national office at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. in August of 1982. For more visit www.usfencing.org, www.facebook.com/usfencing or www.twitter.com/usfencing.