The U.S. men’s foil team became the first U.S. fencing team to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and it did so with a No. 1 standing in the Olympic rankings, according to USA Fencing.
Team USA won the team event at the Challenge International de Paris this weekend, moving up to first place in the FIE Official Team Ranking List for Olympic qualification and securing its spot in Rio with one team qualification event remaining.
The four-person team competing in Paris – Miles Chamley-Watson, Race Imboden, Alex Massialas and Gerek Meinhardt – overcame reigning Olympic and world champion Italy in the gold-medal bout in Paris to take its second consecutive Paris world cup win.
The Paris world cup is especially significant to Team USA, as it is where Chamley-Watson, Imboden, Massialas and David Willette won the United States its first-ever men’s foil world cup team title three years ago. The U.S. won bronze at the event in 2014, before returning to the top of the podium in 2015.
This year’s win vaulted the U.S. from fifth to first in the Olympic rankings. The team has medaled at all three world cups this season – winning gold in Tokyo and bronze in San Jose, California – and is on track to earn its first Olympic medal since 1932.
Also in Paris, Race Imboden won the individual title for the second year in a row, while Meinhardt took bronze. Imboden ended last season ranked No. 1 in the world cup standings, the first U.S. man to achieve that feat.
Imboden’s win this year helped him become the fourth-ranked fencer in the world and surpass Chamley-Watson for the third spot in the national senior team point standings.
The national point standings will help determine which three men represent Team USA in both individual and team competition in Rio, while the fourth man in the standings will be a replacement athlete for the team event. Massialas, who was No. 1 in the world until he finished fifth in Paris and was bumped down a spot, leads the U.S. point standings, followed by Meinhardt.
The point standings will come to a close at the Division I National Championships in April.