Nicole Ross took the first step on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in impressive fashion Saturday, earning her first career world cup podium finish by winning a bronze medal in Cancun, Mexico.
Ranked No. 12 in the world in women’s foil, Ross opened the elimination rounds with a 15-8 victory over Hungary’s Flora Pasztor, then earned a spot in the quarterfinals with wins over Eva Hampel of Germany (15-13) and Poland’s Hanna Lyczbinska (15-12). She quickly dispatched Germany’s Leonie Ebert by a 15-4 margin to move into the semifinals, where she fell to eventual silver medalist Elisa Vardaro of Italy, 15-11.
Arianna Errigo, ranked No. 1 in the world, led a dominating performance by the Italian women, who claimed three of the four available medals.
Ross’ teammate Lee Kiefer, a two-time Olympian who won four medals last season at world cup and grand prix competition, finished fifth.
A six-time member of the U.S. national team, Ross, 27, was a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Fencing Team. She placed 25th individually in London while helping the team to a sixth-place finish. The 2010 NCAA women’s foil champion representing Columbia University, she recently was named as an assistant coach for the Cornell University fencing team. The bronze medal in Mexico comes on the heels of a silver medal she won in June at the zonal championships in Panama.