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World No. 1 Alexander Massialas Wins Gold in Paris, Team USA Takes Bronze

01/25/2017, 5:45am CST
By Nicole Jomantas

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Once dominated by solely European fencers, the Paris Men’s Foil World Cup crowned an American as its champion for the third straight year as 2016 Olympic silver medalist Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) received the gold medalist’s trophy on Saturday and had his photo hoisted in honor at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin.

Massialas’ win followed back-to-back golds by his Rio Olympic teammate Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.) in 2015 and 2016.

“It’s amazing to keep the trophy in the family and it just shows that U.S. fencing has come a long way,” Massialas told reporters after receiving his medal. “When I came here as a 10 year old, I didn’t even think Americans could make the top eight or top 16 of this competition. And now we’re here every single year trying to win it all.”

Ranked No. 1 in the world, Massialas earned quick wins in the early rounds where he defeated Felix Klein (GER), 15-8, in the table of 64 and 2015 Senior World team silver medalist Dmitry Rigin (RUS), 15-6, in the 32.

It would be a junior fencer, however, who would push Massialas in the table of 16. The current No. 2 fencer in the under-20 standings, Guillaume Bianchi (ITA), kept the score within a touch for most of the first period. Although Massialas looked to close out the bout with the score at 14-10 in the second, Bianchi scored four straight to tie the bout. Massialas put up a single light during the next exchange to win the bout, 15-14.

In the quarter-finals, Massialas fenced Francesco Trani – the Italian who defeated Rio Olympic team bronze medalist Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y.), 15-11, in the table of 32.

The win put Massialas into the semis against 2012 Olympic Team Champion Giorgio Avola (ITA) – Massialas’ opponent from the quarters in Rio.

While Massialas came back from a 14-7 deficit to defeat Avola in Rio, this time, Massialas dominated the beginning of the bout with a 6-0 lead. Avola rebounded, however, tying the bout at seven. Up by just a touch at the end of the first period (11-10), Massialas outscored Avola, 4-1, in the second for a 15-11 win.

Advancing to the finals for the second time in as many tournaments, Massialas would fence 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Timur Safin (RUS). Although the two stood on the podium together in Rio, Massialas had not fenced the Russian in an individual event in nearly two years and held a 2-1 advantage in their matchups with Safin defeating Massialas in the semis of the 2012 Junior Worlds.

Safin kept the score close with a tie at nine at the first break. With a 12-10 lead in the second, Safin called for a medical timeout and then regrouped to gain a 14-12 lead. Massialas remained in the bout, scoring three straight to win his first gold of the season.

After receiving his gold medal, Massialas reflected on winning the tournament he traveled to see as a child.

“Before I started competing here, I actually came here and watched a couple times. I remember the first time I came here I was about 10 years old and from there I knew this was the best World Cup to ever win,” said Massialas who was coached by his father three-time Olympian Greg Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) with grandfather Frixos Massialas watching in the stands. “This is the World Cup with the most history and even my father used to compete here back in the day … This is the tournament of the year that my grandfather always comes to. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to do it for the family. I’m sure they were here years before I was even born when my father was fencing too so it’s amazing to be able to bring it back for the family.”

Imboden, who entered the tournament as the two-time reigning champion and the first American to win gold in Paris, ran into his Olympic teammate Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.) in the table of 16.

Imboden defeated Dmitry Zherebchenko (RUS), 15-14, and Dmytro Chuchukalo (UKR), 15-12, in the previous two rounds while Meinhardt won his table of 64 bout against 2014 Senior World Champion Alexey Cheremisnov (RUS), 15-13, and blazed through his next bout against 2013 Senior World bronze medalist Valerio Aspromonte (ITA), 15-5.

In the table of 16, Imboden took an early lead at 3-1 before Meinhardt answered with five straight touches. With the momentum on his side, Meinhardt went on to close out the bout, 15-7.

Meinhardt fenced Safin in the quarters for a chance to win his third Paris World Cup medal after taking bronze in 2014 and 2016. The score was kept close throughout the bout, but Safin pulled away at 13-12 with two straight touches for a 15-12 victory.

Competing at his first Senior World Cup since 2015, former NCAA medalist Adam Mathieu (Union City, N.J.) went 3-3 in the pool rounds on Friday and defeated 2016 Tokyo World Cup medalist Alessandro Paroli (ITA), 15-10, in the preliminary table of 128. Mathieu won the next round against Wallerand Roger (FRA), 15-14.

On Saturday, Mathieu fenced 2012 Olympic silver medalist Alaaeldin Abouelkassem (EGY) and dropped the bout, 15-5.

In the team event on Sunday, Team USA came in as the two-time reigning champions after winning gold for the first time in 2015.

Fencing together for the second time since Rio, Imboden, Massialas, Meinhardt and Chamley-Watson took the strip to defend their title.

With Chamley-Watson as anchor, Team USA won or tied all nine bouts against Canada in the 16 to win the match, 45-20.

In the quarters, Meinhardt took on the anchor role, posting a +7 indicator across the match as Team USA defeated Germany, 45-32.

Team USA faced Italy in the semis which would be a rematch of the London bronze medal final. Massialas returned to the lineup and the Americans won five of the first eight bouts to build a 39-38 lead over Italy going into the final bout between Massialas and 2016 Olympic Champion Daniele Garozzo (ITA). As expected, the bout between the two Olympic medalists would be close and, indeed, the opportunity to fence for gold would come down to the last touch with Garozzo taking the final score for a 45-44 win.

Team USA would fence Japan for bronze – a team that upset Olympic Champion Russia, 45-27, in the semis.

While Japan posted three bout wins, Team USA held a 40-34 lead going into the anchor bout. Massialas took on Kyosuke Matsuyama and posted a 5-0 shut out to seal the victory for Team USA at 45-34.

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

Paris Men’s Individual Foil World Cup
1. Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)

2. Timur Safin (RUS)
3. Giorgio Avola (ITA)
3 Taegyu Ha (KOR)
5. Richard Kruse (GBR)
6. Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif)
7. Francesco Trani (ITA)
8. Toshiya Saito (JPN)

9. Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
18. Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y.)
57. Adam Mathieu (Union City, N.J.)
91. Lucas Orts (Burlingame, Calif.)
115. Brian Kaneshige (Maplewood, N.J.)
144. Michael Li (Palo Alto, Calif.)
169. Gregory Mitberg (Concord, Mass.)
202. Spencer Gordon-Sand (New York City, N.Y.)

Paris Men’s Team Foil World Cup
1. Italy
2. France
3. USA
4. Japan
5. Russia
6. Korea
7. Germany
8. Poland

Tag(s): Alexander Massialas