By Brandon Penny | Jan. 27, 2016, 1:12 p.m. (ET)
Courtney Hurley (L) and teammates Susannah Scanlan (2nd R), Kelley Hurley (2nd L) and Maya Lawrence (R) celebrate winning the women's epee team fencing bronze-medal match against Russia at the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL on Aug. 4, 2012 in London.


The U.S. women’s epee team won Team USA’s sole fencing medal at the 2012 Olympic Games, preventing the team from going home empty-handed by winning bronze on the second-to-last day of fencing competition in London.

Four years later, the women’s epee team has achieved the first step in its quest to improve upon that bronze medal by qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The team qualified for this summer’s Olympics after the latest world cup, held in Barcelona, where the U.S. finished eighth and maintained its No. 5 spot in the Olympic rankings. The top four countries in the rankings qualify for Rio, as well as the top country per zone out of the nations ranked fifth through 16th. The U.S. could move into the top four, with one Olympic qualification event remaining, but is already guaranteed a spot in the Olympic event as the top-ranked team in the Americas zone.

The women’s epee team is the second U.S. fencing team to qualify for Rio. The men’s foil team earned its spot earlier this month as the top-ranked team in its Olympic rankings. Teams in men’s epee and women’s saber have yet to secure spots at the Games.

Fencing competition in Rio will take place Aug. 6-14 in Carioca Arena 3 in Barra, with the women’s epee team event held on the 11th.

Qualifying a team spot means the U.S. will send three women’s epee athletes to Brazil – who will all compete in both the individual and team competitions – as well as a replacement athlete for the team event.

With Olympic team qualification checked off the list, the U.S. women now turn their attention to earning their spots on that team, which is determined by the national senior team point standings.

Olympic bronze medalists and sisters Kelley and Courtney Hurley currently lead the charge in the standings, followed by 2010 Youth Olympian Katharine Holmes and Katarzyna Trzopek.

The point standings will come to a close at the Division I National Championships in April.