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Miles Chamley-Watson Wins Shanghai Foil Grand Prix

05/18/2015, 2:30pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

Miles Chamley-Watson celebrates his first Grand Prix title in Shanghai. Photo Credit: Serge Timacheff / FIE /

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – London Olympian Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City) heard The Star-Spangled Banner play in his honor for the first time since 2013 on Sunday when he took gold at the Shanghai Foil Grand Prix.

The 2013 Senior World Champion began the tournament as the 27th-ranked fencer in the world and finished the day with his first Grand Prix title and is expected to hold a top-16 seed when the Senior Worlds begin in July in Moscow.

Chamley-Watson went 5-1 in the pool rounds on Friday and the men had a day off on Saturday while the women’s event was held before returning for the table of 64 on Sunday. Both events were part of the third qualifying tournament for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

In the table of 64, Chamley-Watson blazed through his bout against Bin Sun (CHN) for a 15-5 win to set up a bout against his teammate, Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.), who is the No. 2-ranked fencer in the world. Imboden won their last bout, 15-8, at the Bonn World Cup in February, but Chamley-Watson defeated his teammate, 15-10, to move on to the table of 16.

“Fencing a teammate always sucks because you came all the way over there and fence and American,” Chamley-Watson said. “Race is very strong and having a great season so I wanted to get off to a big lead which I did. It ended up being 15-10 and I'm happy how I fenced against him.”

Chamley-Watson advanced to the quarters as the only U.S. fencer to make the top eight after winning his next round against 2008 Olympic silver medalist Yuki Ota (JPN), 15-13.

Fencing two-time Olympic Champion Andrea Cassara (ITA) for just the third time in an individual event in his career, Chamley-Watson took a 4-2 lead early, but Cassara pulled away at 13-11 late in the bout. Chamley-Watson scored four of the next five touches to come away with a 15-14 win to secure his first Grand Prix medal since he won bronze at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix in 2010.

“Beating Cassara is always huge. I beat him two competitions in team 14-5 but individual is very difficult. The match was head-to-head the entire bout,” he said. “He is someone who will go down as arguably the best fencer ever, and beating him is not only amazing for me but for my confidence pushing to Moscow for the World Championships.”

After the quarters, the tournament moved to the Westgate Mall where the semi and final rounds would be broadcast throughout China and Europe. Despite the crowds, Chamley-Watson stayed focused on winning gold.

“Momentum and my mind are my strong suits. The crowd was incredible so feeding off of them was so natural and easy,” he said. “Not having my coach there, I was lucky enough to have one of my best friends and teammates Gerek [Meinhardt] there to coach me. I sat in the back listening to my headphones and focused on my semi match. It was very hard to focus because there were so many fans and people wanting autographs.”

In the semifinals, Chamley-Watson led the bout, 11-9, when 2008 Junior World medalist Dmitry Zherebchenko (RUS) mounted a comeback and scored four straight. Chamley-Watson reeled off four touches of his own to win the bout, 15-13.

Chamley-Watson faced Alexander Choupenitch (CZE) – the No. 8-ranked fencer in the world – in the final bout and dominated the two-time Junior World medalist from the start of the bout. Chamley-Watson seemed virtually unstoppable as he whipped off 11 touches to Choupenitch’s two in just over 30 seconds and went on to take gold with a 15-7 victory.

“I had never fenced Choupenitch in a senior-level competition, but he is strong and actually bigger than me. I had to use my athleticism and hand to beat him, which was exactly what I did,” Chamley-Watson said. “It feels incredible, a natural high to the fullest. I work very hard so I am so happy that it paid off. I have a lot of great people in my corner and they deserve a praise as well. Thank you to Simon and Irene Gershon, Scott Weiss at Bodhizone, Nikki Kimbrough, my amazing trainer, and my family.”

After the medals were awarded and autographs signed, Chamley-Watson was still meeting fans on Monday morning in the Shanghai Airport.

“I was at the airport and everyone was coming up to me asking me if I was ‘Miles the American fencer.’ It feels amazing to be able to win on such a huge stage, and get recognized across the world,” Chamley-Watson said.

Chamley-Watson and his U.S. teammates will return to training with less than two months remaining before the Senior World Championships begin on July 13 in Moscow.

“I am very happy I finished the World Cup and Grand Prix circuit on a gold, but I know I have a huge task to do which is getting ready and preparing for the Senior World Championships in Moscow,” said Chamley-Watson who is now No. 12 in the world. “I have great momentum, but I know I must not let this get to my head. I’ll enjoy this for a couple days then get back in the gym.”

Chamley-Watson’s London Olympic teammate, Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.), placed 10th in Shanghai.

Seeded sixth in the table of 64, Massialas opened with a pair of strong wins over Anthony Prymack (CAN), 15-5, and 2012 Junior World Champion Timur Safin (RUS), 15-9.

Massialas’s bid for a medal was halted in the table of 16, however, when he lost to 2012 Olympic Team Champion Giorgio Avola (ITA), 15-8.

David Willette (Lafayette, Calif.), a 2008 Senior World Team member, earned his third top-32 result of the World Cup season with a 27th place finish. After going 5-1 in the pools, Willette earned the 30th seed in the table of 64 where he defeated Ryo Miyake (JPN), 15-14. In the table of 32, Willette lost to Jialuo Shi (CHN), 15-14.

The win was Shi’s second of the day over an American as he also defeated two-time Olympian Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.), 15-11, in the previous round.

Click here to view complete results.

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:

Shanghai Men’s Foil Grand Prix
1. Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City)

2. Alexander Choupenitch (CZE)
3. Erwan LePechoux (FRA)
3. Dmitry Zherebchenko (RUS)
5. Andrea Cassara (ITA)
6. Giorgio Avola (ITA)
7. Young Ho Kwon (KOR)
8. Renal Ganeev (RUS)

10. Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
18. Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
27. David Willette (Lafayette, Calif.)
33. Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)
102. Brian Kaneshige (Maplewood, N.J.)
118. Nobuo Bravo (San Francisco, Calif.)
123. Forrest MacDougall (Los Angeles, Calif.)
149. Jason Chang (Mountain View, Calif.)

Tag(s): News  Race Imboden  Alexander Massialas  Gerek Meinhardt  Miles Chamley-Watson