(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – London Olympic Team members Lee Kiefer(Lexington, Ky.) and Doris Willette (Lafayette, Calif.) opened the second leg of the 2012 World Cup circuit with top-eight finishes at the Marseille Grand Prix in France on Sunday – the best result ever for both athletes at a Grand Prix event.
Both Willette and Kiefer, a bronze medalist at the 2011 Senior World Championships, were exempt from pool competition on Saturday due to their top-16 rankings in the world.
Kiefer opened the event on Sunday with a 15-10 win over Jeromine Mpah-Njanga (FRA) in the table of 64 and Willette had little challenge from Irina Kartukova (RUS)whom she defeated, 15-6.
In the table of 32, Kiefer had a close bout against 2009 Junior World silver medalistAnita Blaze (FRA), but pulled out a 15-13 win.
Willette won her next bout against Hye-Sun Lee (KOR), 15-9, to advance to the table of 16 for the first time on the World Cup Circuit since the Seoul Grand Prix last May.
Willette’s bout pitted her against fourth seed Corinne Maitrejean (FRA), but Willette earned the upset with a 15-14 victory.
In her table of 16 bout, Kiefer defeated Ines Boubakri (TUN), 15-11.
Kiefer and Willette’s London teammate, Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.) also advanced to the table of 16, but lost her bout to three-time Senior World medalistHyun-Hee Nam (KOR), 15-6, and finished 14th. Prescod, who was exempt from the pools as the #13 seed in the tournament, won her first two bouts of the day againstEkaterina Kazhikina (RUS), 15-6, and Seo-In Hong (KOR), 15-8.
Kiefer lost to Astrid Guyart (FRA), 15-8, in the quarter-finals and placed sixth overall.
Willette finished seventh after a 15-6 loss to five-time individual Senior World medalist Arianno Errigo (ITA).
Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.), who also will compete in London at her first Olympic Games, went 4-2 in the pools on Saturday to advance to the table of 64, but she lost her opening direct elimination bout on Sunday to Martina Batini (ITA), 15-14, and finished in 41st place.
Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:
Marseille Foil Grand Prix
1. Valentina Vezzali (ITA)
2. Arianna Errigo (ITA)
3. Astrid Guyart (FRA)
3. Malgorzata Wojtkowiak (POL)
5. Hyun-Hee Nam (KOR)
6. Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.)
7. Doris Willette (Lafayette, Calif.)
8. Benedetta Durando (ITA)
14. Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
41. Nicole Ross (New York City, N.Y.)