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U.S. Men’s Foil Team Finalized for Rio Olympic Games

03/15/2016, 9:00pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

The U.S. Men's Foil Team will be aiming for the podium in Rio after winning medals at three of the four World Cups this season, including gold (pictured here) in Paris. Photo Credit: Augusto Bizzi / Federscherma.

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Between them, the four members of the U.S. Men’s Foil Team have won five individual medals in the first six events of the World Cup season and hold three of the top four positions in the world rankings.

As a team, the squad has won medals at three out of four World Cups, including two gold and are aiming to bring home the first Olympic gold medal for U.S. men’s foil in the sport’s history.

But one question loomed over the season: With four of the top 10 athletes in the world all fighting to represent Team USA, who would earn the three positions in the individual event and which athlete would finish fourth in the National Team Point Standings and join his teammates as a replacement athlete for the team competition?

The answer would come down to one afternoon in Cuba at the Havana Grand Prix on Sunday. While 2015 Senior World medalists Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) and Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) punched their tickets to Rio in February, Havana would remain the final international competition opportunity for 2013 Senior World Cup Champion Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y.) and 2015 Overall World Cup Champion Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Chamley-Watson dominated his table of 64 bout, defeating Jialuo Shi (CHN), 15-3, and needed one more victory to guarantee himself the third individual position on Team USA.

Two-time Senior World team medalist Haiwei Chen (CHN) stood in his way, however. With the score tied at 14, Chen picked up the final touch and took the win, 15-14.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, Imboden had finished his table of 64 with a 15-12 win against Daniel Dosa (HUN) and was in the midst of fencing 2013 Junior World silver medalist Lorenzo Nista (ITA) with no knowledge of how Chamley-Watson was faring on the opposite strip. Imboden closed out with a 15-10 victory to remain in contention for the individual position on Team USA.

Imboden would need at least a silver medal to stay in the hunt for the individual spot and quickly qualified for the quarters with a 15-4 win against 2009 Junior World medalist Alessio Foconi (ITA).

In the quarters, Imboden fenced his third Italian opponent of the day: 2012 Olympic Team Champion Giorgio Avola. The two-time Senior World Champion had defeated Meinhardt, 15-7, in the table of 16 and held a 9-7 lead against Imboden late in the first period. Imboden outscored Avola, 4-1, to close out the period with an 11-10 lead. In the second period, Imboden opened with three straight touches and went on to finish with a 15-12 victory.

By qualifying for the semifinal, Imboden secured a bronze medal and needed one more win to advance to the final. With a silver medal, Imboden would have forced the Olympic chase to the final tournament of the qualifying period – the USA Fencing National Championships being held from April 8-11 in Richmond, Va. With a gold in Havana, Imboden would have locked up the spot automatically.

In the semis, Imboden fenced 2012 Olympic individual silver medalist Alaaeldin Abouelkassem (EGY). With the Egyptian up, 9-3, in the first period, Race fought back to cut his opponent’s lead to 12-11, but only scored once more and lost the bout, 15-12.

Imboden ended the day with a bronze medal and a position on the U.S. Olympic Team as the replacement athlete while Chamley-Watson would their London teammates, Meinhardt and Massialas, in qualifying for the individual and team events.

Massialas also competed in Havana, placing fifth after a 15-14 loss to Richard Kruse (GBR) in the quarters which keeps him in the No. 1 world ranking. Meinhardt climbed to No. 3 while Imboden now sits in fourth.

Massialas, Meinhardt, Chamley-Watson and Imboden will be nominated to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Fencing Team in April. All athletes are subject to approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee. 

Click here to view complete results.

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

Havana Men’s Foil Grand Prix
1. Richard Kruse (GBR)
2. Alaaeldin Abouelkassem (EGY)
3. Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
3. Jean-Paul Tony Helissey (FRA)
5. Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
6. Andrea Cassara (ITA)
7. Giorgio Avola (ITA)
8. Enzo Lefort (FRA)

9. Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)
18. Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y.)
82. David Willette (Lafayette, Calif.)
102. Brian Kaneshige (Maplewood, N.J.)
112. Julian Knodt (Palo Alto, Calif.)

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