Eli Dershwitz knew he could qualify for his first Olympic appearance with a solid performance at the Seoul Grand Prix on Saturday. Leaving nothing to chance, Dershwitz not only qualified but won the gold medal in South Korea. It marked his first career grand prix medal.
Dershwitz will join U.S. teammate Daryl Homer in the individual men’s saber competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Both qualified by being in the top 14 of the FIE Adjusted Official Ranking list.
The 20-year-old had an impressive showing in Seoul, beating 2014 world silver medalist Bongil Gu of Korea in the quarterfinals, followed by 2014 world champion Nikolay Kovalev from Russia in the semifinals and Mojtaba Abedini, who in 2012 was the first Olympic fencer for Iran, in the final.
Dershwitz broke onto the international scene in a major way in 2015, winning gold at the junior world championships, the first title for a U.S. men’s saber fencer. He won gold on the senior level later that year at the Pan American Games.
In team competition at the Warsaw World Cup in February 2016, he scored a victory over 2015 world champion Alexey Yakimento of Russia to propel the United States to the gold medal at that event and the No. 1 spot in the world rankings.
He added a pair of gold medals to his collection this year: an individual gold at the North American Cup and a team gold at the Warsaw World Cup, bringing his gold medal total to 16 since 2014. A two-time individual gold medalist at the Pan American Championships, he medaled in either individual or team competition at a total of nine events at the senior and junior levels in 2014.
Dershwitz rounds out the U.S. Olympic Fencing Team, joining epee fencers Kelley Hurley, Courtney Hurley, Katharine Holmes and Jason Pryor; foil fencers Gerek Meinhardt, Alex Massialas, Miles Chamley-Watson, Lee Kiefer and Nzingha Prescod; and saber fencers Mariel Zagunis, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Dagmara Wozniak and Homer.