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Junior World Champ Eli Dershwitz Adds Pan Ams Gold To Budding Fencing Career

By Sarah Higgins | July 21, 2015, 12:31 a.m. (ET)

Eli Dershwitz celebrates his victory against Joseph Polossifakis of Canada during the men's individual saber gold-medal match at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games on July 20, 2015 in Toronto.

Watch the Pan American Games on the networks of ESPN.

TORONTO -- After winning the junior world championships earlier this season, saber fencer Eli Dershwitz had a disappointing showing at the senior world championships last week in Moscow. A round of 64 elimination was weighing on his mind as he prepared to step on the piste at the Pan American Games in Toronto on Monday.

“I woke up tired,” Dershwitz admitted. “I tried to tell myself that all this preparation was for tournaments like this. I started off the day a little slow, but everything came together and I started fencing really well.”

Well enough to win gold, in fact. Dershwitz conquered Canadian Joseph Polossifakis in the gold-medal match to win gold at his first Pan American Games.

Earlier in the day, teammate Daryl Homer, who won Team USA’s first ever men’s saber world championship medal just last week, fell to Brazil’s Renzo Agresta in the quarterfinals. Dershwitz, meanwhile, secured his place in the semifinals by making quick work of Canada’s Shaul Gordon, 15-10.

Watch the Pan American Games on the networks of ESPN.

Already guaranteed a medal for Team USA, the 19-year-old Dershwitz faced Argentina’s Ricardo Bustamente in a dominating match that ended in 15-4.

In the gold-medal match, Dershwitz had a lead on Polossifakis after the first period, 8-6.

“Joe is very fast, very athletic, and it’s hard when the whole crowd is cheering against you,” Dershwitz said of competing against the Canadian.

After the break, Dershwitz finished the second period 7-3 to win the gold.

“I feel amazing,” Dershwitz said. “To end this season individually with a gold medal is a great feeling and will help motivate me next year to try and qualify for Rio.” 

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Eli Dershwitz