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U.S. Women Take Silver in Team Foil

08/16/2008, 3:53am CDT
By No Author

BEIJING, China -- The United States claimed the silver medal in the women's team foil event at the Fencing Hall Saturday evening after falling to Russia in the gold medal match 28-11. The medal is the first ever in Olympic women's foil competition and the first U.S. Olympic medal in foil since 1960. The American team is comprised of Emily Cross (New York, N.Y.), Erinn Smart (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Hanna Thompson (Rochester, N.Y.).

"We worked very hard this year and it finally came together today," said Smart.

The seventh-seeded U.S. squad reached the gold-medal match with upset wins over Poland and Hungary.

In the semifinal win over third-seeded Hungary, the U.S. team built up a sizeable lead and then hung on for a 35-33 victory. Cross led the way for the Americans with 16 touches, including posting a 7-1 advantage in the eighth round to put the U.S. up 33-19. Smart then held off a desperate charge by Hungary's Aida Mohamed, a bronze medalist at the 2007 world championships, to secure the win.

"Aida Mohamed is a very strong fencer," said Cross. "She is especially strong at the end and with comebacks."

"I kept trying to parry and riposte but it didn't work," said Smart of the final round. "Usually it's easier (with a big advantage) but I just didn't have enough strategy."

Smart found needed strength from brother and Olympic teammate Keeth Smart during the furious final round.

"Before the final touch he told me to calm down and be patient. I always look to him for support."

Thompson had 11 touches in the semifinal match and Smart recorded eight.

In the day's opening quarterfinal victory over #2-seed Poland, the U.S. overcame a 22-15 deficit at the end of the sixth round to claim a 31-30 win. The turning point was Thompson's 7-0 run in round seven that evened the score.

"I just thought, ‘Just go, whatever you're doing, it's working'," said Thompson.

Cross then pushed the U.S. ahead, 25-24, entering the final round.

"I felt good," Cross said. "I was having a rough match up to that point. It felt great especially since that's the girl (Malgorzata Wojtkowiak) I have the most trouble with on the Polish team."

Smart closed out the win by fencing even with Poland's anchor Sylvia Gruchala.

"We are usually the underdogs and sometimes the big guys fall asleep on us," said Smart. "I was a little less nervous today but a little highly strung. I have always known we were capable of this. We proved it."

"We were really confident in our strategy and it worked out perfectly," said U.S. coach Mike Pederson.

Thompson led the way in the quarterfinal match with 13 touches, followed by Smart with 11 and Cross with seven.

Olympic fencing competition concludes on Sunday with the men's team sabre event

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