(Wuxi, China) – Three members of Team USA came one win away from standing on the podium at the Senior World Championships on Monday with foil fencers Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) and Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and epeeist Curtis McDowald (Jamaica, N.Y.) each advancing to the quarter-finals.
Ranked No. 3 in the world, Kiefer put up a 7-3 run in the first period of her table of 64 bout against Kata Kondricz (HUN) to end the period with a 10-5 lead and closed the second at 15-9.
In the table of 32, the two-time Olympian fenced three-time Pan Am bronze medalist Alanna Goldie (CAN) for the second time in just over a month after taking a 15-12 win over the Canadian at the Pan American Championships in June. A familiar opponent who Kiefer holds a 6-0 record against internationally, the two also competed against each other often when Kiefer fenced for Notre Dame and Goldie competed for Ohio State. Their bouts are usually close and this would be no different with Kiefer holding a 7-5 lead in the first before ending with a 10-1 run and a 15-8 victory.
Kiefer would fence Hanna Lyczbinska (POL) in the table of 16 and found herself with a three-touch deficit when Lyczbinska built a 7-4 lead in the first. Kiefer rebounded, tying the score at seven to end the period and reeling off seven unanswered touches to open the second before closing the bout at 15-9.
In the quarter-finals, Kiefer fenced 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Ines Boubakri (TUN) in a bid to return to the Senior World Championships podium after winning bronze as an individual in 2011 and silver with her team in 2017. Although the two haven’t fenced in competition since Boubakri’s Olympic finish, the Tunisian recently trained with the Americans and came into the bout seeking her first win over Kiefer. Kiefer led the bout at 3-0 to start, Boubakri scored four straight touches to take a one-point lead. Kiefer pushed ahead to 10-7, but Boubakri answered with three scores of her own to tie the bout. The lead would be exchanged several times again with Boubakri tying the score at 13 before closing with a 15-13 win and going on to win her second career Senior World bronze medal.
Prescod, a two-time Olympian, opened with a key table of 64 win, taking out No. 5 seed Anne Sauer (GER) with a 9-2 run at the end of a 15-8 victory.
Again, Prescod would find herself with a hot streak in the table of 64, putting up six straight against Seo In Hong (KOR) before calling for a medical timeout. Prescod stayed in the bout, however, scoring a touch before the break to hold onto a 14-9 lead and ending with a 15-9 win.
In the table of eight, Prescod fenced former Olympic and World Champion Arianna Errigo (ITA) for the first time individually since Prescod won a Senior World bronze medal of her own in 2015. While Prescod came within two touches of the Italian at 11-9, Errigo claimed the win at 15-11 and went on to earn bronze.
At the conclusion of the Senior Worlds, Kiefer retains her No. 3 world ranking and Prescod returns to the top 16 for the new season, moving up to No. 12.
McDowald, a 2016 Junior World Team member competing for the first time on the Senior World stage, showed that he meant business early in each bout, breaking away with an 8-1 lead in the table of 64 against Richard Schmidt (GER) and closing the bout at 15-8.
In the table of 32, McDowald got off to a fast start again, leading Marco Brinkmann (GER), 6-1, and claiming the bout, 15-6.
McDowald’s strategy of fast-paced, aggressive fencing would serve him well in the 16 as he dominated Youngun Kweon (KOR) in the opening minutes, taking a 9-1 lead and ending the first period at 12-4. He gave up just two touches in the second to secure another 15-6 victory.
In the quarter-finals, No. 1 seed Bogdan Nikishin (UKR) forced McDowald to change his strategy and slow down the pace. Nikishin, who edged McDowald late in the quarter-finals of the Paris World Cup in May, held a 6-5 lead in the first and pulled away at 9-6 going into the break. In the second, Nikishin continued to grow his lead before ending the bout, 15-10, and going on to claim bronze.
With his eighth place finish as well as a top-eight in Paris and bronze at Pan Ams, McDowald moves up to No. 9 in the world.
London Olympian Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.) fenced a close first period in the women’s foil table of 64 against four-time Senior World individual medalist Aida Mohamed (HUN), pulling away from a tie at four with less than seven seconds on the clock to end the first period with a 5-4 lead. Ross controlled the second period to win the bout, 15-9.
In the table of 32, Ross fenced 2017 Junior World Champion Komaki Kikuchi (JPN), controlling the bout from the start of a 15-6 win.
Ross reigning Olympic and Senior World Champion Inna Deriglazova (RUS) in the table of 16. The Russian led the bout, 4-2, after the first and continued to control the score in the second, pulling ahead to 10-3. Ross continued to push into the final minute, but Deriglazova took the bout, 15-7.
The top-16 finish allowed Ross to move up to No. 11 in the world rankings after being 15th at the start of the Senior Worlds.
Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.) also fenced in the foil event on Monday and found herself challenged by Lyczbinska in their first senior individual 15-touch bout. Lyczbinska took an early lead at 5-1 and Lu tried to make up the gap, but could only get to within two before falling to Lyczbinska, 8-6.
In the men’s epee competition, first-time Senior World Team members Jake Hoyle (New York City, N.Y.) and Dennis Kraft (Bloomfield, N.J.) were each eliminated in the table of 64.
Hoyle, a bronze medalist at the Pan Ams last month, fenced Nikishin in the table of 64 and led the bout, 6-3, but the Ukrainian rebounded for a 10-8 win.
The reigning Division I National Champion, Kraft fenced Kweon who went on a 7-3 run to end the bout, 15-10.
Top eight and U.S. results are as follows, including athletes who placed outside the top 64 on Friday:
Men’s Individual Senior World Championships
1. Yannick Borel (FRA)
2. Ruben Limardo Gascon (VEN)
3. Bogdan Nikishin (UKR)
3. Roman Svichkar (UKR)
5. Sangyoung Park (KOR)
6. Dmitriy Alexanin (KAZ)
7. Benjamin Steffen (SUI)
8. Curtis McDowald (Jamaica, N.Y.)
43. Dennis Kraft (Bloomfield, N.J.)
54. Jake Hoyle (New York City, N.Y.)
107. Jason Pryor (South Euclid, Ohio)
Women’s Individual Foil Senior World Championships
1. Alice Volpi (ITA)
2. Ysaora Thibus (FRA)
3. Arianna Errigo (ITA)
3. Ines Boubakri (TUN)
5. Inna Deriglazova (RUS)
6. Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.)
7. Camilla Mancini (ITA)
8. Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
12. Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.)
36. Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.)
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