(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – In the penultimate Rio Olympic qualifier for men’s individual epee fencers, 2015 Senior World Team member Yeisser Ramirez (Brooklyn, N.Y.) won gold on Sunday at the Sofia Satellite Epee Tournament in Bulgaria.
Ramirez, formerly of Cuba and now representing Team USA, earned four Olympic qualifying points as he is one of several U.S. fencers making a final push to earn one of two individual slots available for athletes from the American Zone.
Ramirez went undefeated in the pool rounds on Saturday, but the withdrawal of one of his opponents left him with a short pool and a 5-0 result.
Seeded eighth, Ramirez defeated Otto Tardi (ROU), 15-9, to qualify for the table of 32 which would be held on Sunday.
Three-time Senior World Team member Jason Pryor (South Euclid, Ohio), who is currently the top-ranked athlete in the Olympic qualification standings for the zone, went 6-0 to earn the No. 1 seed and a bye into the table of 32.
Alen Hadzic (New York City, N.Y.) also finished the pool rounds with a 6-0 record and took his next bout, 15-11, against Marcus Ronnmark (SWE) to qualify for the 32 as well.
Ben Bratton (New York City, N.Y.), a 2012 Senior World Team Champion, is the second highest U.S. fencer in the Olympic standings, but was eliminated after a 15-11 loss to Edward Beaumont (GBR) in the table of 64.
On Sunday, Ramirez advanced to the quarter-finals with wins against Nikita Gubin (RUS), 15-14, and Yuval Shalom Freilich (ISR), 15-12.
Ramirez’s wins would pit him against Pryor in the eight after Pryor won his first two bouts against I-Jie Joshua Koh (MAS), 15-10), and Alexey Kalinin (RUS), 15-11.
Ramirez won the bout against Pryor, 15-11, and defeated his Pan Am rival, John Edison Rodriguez (COL), 15-13, in the semis.
In the finals, Ramirez defeated Frederik Von Der Osten (DEN), 15-10, to win gold.
Following his win, Ramirez earned four Olympic qualification points, pushing his total to 32. Ramirez is currently the third ranked U.S. fencer in the Olympic rankings where he trails Pryor who holds 44 points and Bratton with 40.5. A maximum of two athletes from the Pan American zone whose nations haven’t qualified a team for Rio already can earn individual positions through the Olympic Rankings with a maximum of two per nation.
Hadzic finished 10th after a 15-4 win over Kiril Marinov (BUL) in the 32 and a 15-7 loss to Kiu Fong (HKG) in the 16.
Pryor, Ramirez, Bratton and Hadzic will all compete in the Budapest Grand Prix in Hungary from March 18-19 which will serve as the final qualifying tournament for Rio. With 48 points on the line for a gold medal in Budapest, the field remains wide open for which athlete will represent Team USA in the men’s epee event in Rio.
Click here to view complete results.
Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:
Sofia Men’s Epee Satellite Tournament
1. Yeisser Ramirez (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
2. Frederik Von Der Osten (DEN)
3. John Edison Rodriguez (COL)
3. Ku Fong (HKG)
5. Jason Pryor (South Euclid, Ohio)
6. Ido Herpe (ISR)
7. Fabian Herzberg (GER)
8. Jean Lelion (CAN)
10. Alen Hadzic (New York City, N.Y.)
34. Ben Bratton (New York City, N.Y.)