(L-R) Eli Dershwitz, Jeff Spear, Daryl Homer, Peter Souders and Coach Zoran Tulum (center) pose with their silver medals at the FIE Madrid Men's Saber World Cup on May 15, 2016 in Madrid.
Demonstrating that they will be in the hunt for medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the United States men’s and women’s fencing teams claimed two silver medals and a fourth-place finish in competition around the world Sunday.
The men’s foil team won silver at the world cup in St. Petersburg, Russia, falling to current Olympic champion Italy in the gold-medal round by a 45-38 score. The team of Miles Chamley-Watson, Race Imboden, Alex Massialas and Gerek Meinhardt defeated host Russia 45-40 in the semifinals to advance to the championship. Earlier, the U.S. quartet, which finished fourth at the London 2012 Olympic Games, dispatched Austria 45-22 in the opening round of team play and Japan 45-41 in the quarterfinals.
The silver medal marked Team USA’s fourth medal in five world cup stops, highlighted by golds in Tokyo and Paris; as well as a bronze in San Jose, California.
Although men’s saber will not be competed as a team event in Rio as fencing team events switch out each Games, the silver collected at the world cup Sunday in Madrid is a hopeful sign for success in the individual events. The squad of Eli Dershwitz, Daryl Homer, Peter Souders and Jeff Spear knocked out Olympic bronze medalist Italy in the opening round, 45-35, then sent off Russia by the same margin in the semifinals, only to end up on the opposite end of the same 45-35 score against Germany in the final.
Just like its foil counterpart, the U.S. men’s saber squad now owns four medals in five attempts, including gold from Tbilisi, Georgia, and Varsovie, Poland; and silver from Budapest, Hungary.
On the other side of the world, the women’s saber team was forced to settle for fourth place at the world cup in Foshan, China. The foursome of Monica Aksamit, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Sage Palmedo and Mariel Zagunis fell to Russia in the semifinals by a 45-37 score after opening with a 45-14 domination of the Dominican Republic, followed by a 45-26 win over South Korea. The Americans were edged by Poland in the bronze-medal match, 45-42. The women will not come home empty-handed, though, as two-time Olympic champion Zagunis earned a bronze in individual competition Saturday.