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Youngest U.S. Olympic Fencer Ever Reaches Round of 16 in Men’s Foil

08/13/2008, 4:28am CDT
By No Author

Gerek Meinhardt. Photo Credit: U.S. Olympic Committee

BEIJING, China - Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.), just a few weeks removed from his 18th birthday, turned in the best U.S. men's foil finish at an Olympic Games since Albie Axelrod won gold in 1960.

Meinhardt, who is also the youngest male member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic delegation in Beijing, reached the round of 16 on Wednesday at the Fencing Hall in Beijing. He advanced through the opening round with a convincing 15-3 win over Egypt's Mostafa Nagati. After giving up the first point of the match, Meinhardt reeled off 10 consecutive touches and cruised to the victory.

"I was definitely nervous," said Meinhardt of his Olympic debut. "This morning I had to take some deep breaths."

In the round of 16, Meinhardt not only went up against his opponent, Jun Zhu of China, but also the partisan crowd of boisterous Chinese supporters. The score remained close through the first three-minute period, with Zhu holding a slight 6-5 advantage. But in the second period, Zhu gained momentum, outscoring Meinhardt 9-4 to close out the match with a final tally of 15-9.

Meinhardt remained undaunted by the loss, focusing instead on the experience he gained at these Olympics where the next youngest competitor in his division was more than four years his elder.

"I have a lot more years left than these guys," said Meinhardt.

Also in action at the Fencing Hall on Wednesday was Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) in the women's epee competition. Hurley faced off with Korea's Hyo Jung Jung in the opening round of 32, but found herself battling not only her opponent but a stomach ailment as well.

The opening period was spent with the two fencers feeling one another out and Jung held a slight 2-1 advantage after three minutes. But the Korean found her rhythm in the second stanza, opening up a 10-4 advantage and then closed out the match in the third period by a final score of 15-6 as Hurley was notably affected by her illness.

"I was sick this morning and didn't have much energy left after the first period," Hurley said.

The U.S. women's sabre team will look to continue its winning ways in the team event on Thursday after sweeping the individual medals on Saturday. Gold medalist Mariel Zagunis (Portland, Ore.), silver medalist Sada Jacobson (Atlanta, Ga.) and bronze medalist Becca Ward (Portland, Ore.) combine forces as the #1-seed and will take on 8th-seeded South Africa at 9:30 a.m. in the quarterfinals.

Tag(s): Gerek Meinhardt