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Absolute Fencing Gear® New York Grand Prix Welcomes the World’s Best Fencers this Weekend

12/12/2014, 6:45am CST
By Nicole Jomantas

(Brooklyn, N.Y.) – The first sabre Grand Prix of the season is set to include the top 16 men and women in the world with at least 173 men and 148 women scheduled to compete in the largest combined Grand Prix in the sport’s history when the tournament begins at the Absolute Fencing Gear® New York Grand Prix on Saturday.

The two-day tournament will be the first sabre Grand Prix of the 2014-2015 season with the early rounds taking place at the New York Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday and Sunday and the semifinals and finals being held at Grand Prospect Hall.

The preliminary and direct elimination rounds at the Marriott are free and open to the public. A limited number of tickets are still available for the Sunday evening semi and final rounds only at

Competition schedule is as follows:

Saturday, Dec. 13
New York Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge
9 a.m. Women’s Preliminary Rounds

2 p.m. Men’s Preliminary Rounds

Sunday, Dec. 14
New York Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge
9 a.m. Women’s Table of 64 – Quarter-finals
1:20 p.m. Men’s Table of 64 – Quarter-finals

Grand Prospect Hall
7 p.m. Women’s and Men’s Semis and Finals

Preview of the Action

Both the men’s and women’s fields include a stacked lineup headlined by every fencer that has won an individual medal at the Senior World Championships and Olympic Games since 2012.

After winning gold in the team event at the 2012 London Olympic Games, Korea’s men have been on the rise.

Bongil Gu finished the 2013-2014 season as the Overall World Cup Champion and the 2014

Senior World silver medalist returned to the podium at the first World Cup of the season with a gold medal in Budapest last month. His 2012 Olympic teammate, Junghwan Kim, is ranked No. 2 after opening last season with four straight final appearances on the World Cup circuit.

A three-time Overall World Cup Champion, Alexey Yakimenko (RUS) saw his dreams of an individual Olympic medal come to an end when American Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.) upset the favorite in the table of 16 in London. The Russian struggled during the post-Olympic season, but came back stronger this year. The reigning European Champion has won five straight bronzes on the World Cup circuit and finished third at the Senior World Championships.

Aron Szilagyi (HUN), the reigning Olympic Champion, comes in as the fourth seed after a fifth-place finish and a quarter-final loss to Gu at the 2014 Senior World Championships in Kazan.

And don’t count out Nikolay Kovalev (RUS) who has a knack for coming up big on the world’s largest stages. Although he is currently ranked 12th in the world, Kovalev has one of the most extensive resumes in the field. After winning bronze in London, Kovalev took silver at the 2013

Senior Worlds in Budapest and claimed his first individual Senior World title just five months ago.

The U.S. men’s team will be led by Daryl Homer – the London Olympian who earned three top-eight finishes on the World Cup circuit last year. Homer is expected to hold the 11th seed in the event as the only U.S. man in the top 16. Also watch for 2012 Olympian Jeff Spear (Wynantskill,

N.Y.) and three-time Junior World medalist Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.) who will each be looking for a breakthrough on home soil.

On the women’s side, all eyes will be on 2012 Olympic silver medalist Sofya Velikaya (RUS).

The 2011 Senior World Champion took less than a year off from international competition to have her first child with her husband Aleksey Mishin – a 2004 Olympic Champion in wrestling.

After giving birth in 2013, Velikaya returned to the circuit in March of this year where she traveled the world with her child and finished the season with an eighth-place finish at the Senior Worlds in July. Velikaya, whose last name means “great” in Russian, has been unstoppable in the new season where she set the tone with two gold medals at the Isla de Margarita and Orleans World Cups last month.

Although Velikaya came into both World Cups seeded outside the top 16 and is now ranked 11th, she has posted wins against both of the top two fencers in the world – two-time reigning Senior World Champion Olga Kharlan (UKR) and two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)

Both Kharlan and Zagunis have posted key wins against Velikaya earlier this year, however.

Kharlan kept Velikaya off the podium at the Senior Worlds and Zagunis beat her long-time rival at the Moscow Grand Prix in March. Zagunis also has a long history of faring well at home. Among her five World Cup individual medals won this year, she claimed one of two golds at the Absolute Fencing Gear® Korfanty World Cup in Chicago. Zagunis has won gold or silver for five of the last six years at World Cups held on U.S. soil and will be looking to continue her streak in New York.

In Velikaya’s absence, Ekaterina Dyachenko has stepped up as the top-ranked Russian women’s sabre fencer in the world. A silver medalist at the 2013 Senior Worlds and a bronze medalist in 2014, Dyachenko is now ranked No. 3 in the world. Dyachenko hasn’t fenced Zagunis since 2011, but she and Kharlan were frequent opponents last season with the Ukrainian winning all three of their matchups.

London Olympian Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.Y.) handed Dyachenko her last loss in Orleans in November when the American won their quarter-final bout and went on to take bronze and move up to a No. 6 world ranking.

In addition to Zagunis and Wozniak, Team USA’s women include the other two members of the squad that won gold at the 2014 Senior Worlds – Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.) and Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)

Ranked 12th and 14th in the world, respectively, Stone and Muhammad each won bronze medals at the Moscow Grand Prix in March. Stone will be fencing in her first international tournament since undergoing surgery in October. Muhammad placed seventh at the World Cup in Chicago earlier this year and is hoping to win her first individual World Cup medal of the season in front of friends and family who will have just a 45-minute trip to see her compete on the international stage.

Click here to view live results throughout the weekend. 

Tag(s): News  Daryl Homer  Ibtihaj Muhammad  Dagmara Wozniak  Mariel Zagunis  Eliza Stone