Twenty-four U.S. fencers will travel to Leipzig, Germany, for the World Fencing Championships, which begin on Wednesday. And an amazing two-thirds of those fencers are U.S. Olympians.
The 24 athletes possess a wide array of experience ranging from Kelley Hurley’s 12th world championships appearance to rookie showings by Geoffrey Loss, Adam Rodney and Cooper Schumacher.
Stacked with talent, team members have earned a combined 25 world championship medals, 11 Olympic medals, and boast 27 Olympic appearances. Podium hopes are high despite the absence of saber specialist Mariel Zagunis, the two-time Olympic champion and five-time world champion. Zagunis, the most decorated athlete in U.S. fencing history, withdrew from worlds because of pregnancy.
Here are the 16 Olympians who will represent Team USA in Leipzig.
Jason Pryor (Epee)
Currently ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in men’s epee, this is the fourth world straight world championships for Pryor, who made his Olympic debut last year in Rio. Not bad for someone who described himself as a band geek who played the saxophone and clarinet at Brush High School near Cleveland.
Katharine Holmes (Epee)
The Princeton graduate came back from earning fifth in team epee at the Rio Games to wind down her collegiate career with a silver medal at the NCAA championships. This is the fourth trip to the world championships for the 2010 Youth Olympian and 2015 Pan American Games champion.
Courtney Hurley (Epee)
A five-time national champion in epee, Hurley was on the first U.S. women’s team epee squad to earn an Olympic medal (bronze, 2012). This marks her 10th world championships, the eighth with her older sister Kelley. She and her sister are both coached by their father, Bob. Courtney has been on every world championship team since she was 16.
Kelley Hurley (Epee)
The older sister of Courtney, Kelley is making her 12th appearance at the world championships. Along with Courtney, she helped the U.S. to that historic 2012 Olympic bronze medal. She is a six-time national champion in epee, a three-time Olympian and ranked No. 16 in the world.
Alexander Massialas (Foil)
In Rio, Massialas, ranked No. 2 in the world, became the first U.S. male fencer to win two medals in a single Olympics since 1904 when he won silver in foil and led the foil team to a bronze, its first medal since 1932. The youngest man on record to win a U.S. fencing national title (age 16 in 2010), he is the son of three-time Olympian Greg Massialas. Earlier this year, Massialas defeated Daniele Garozza of Italy, the fencer who stunned the top-ranked Massialas to win the gold medal in Rio.
Miles Chamley-Watson (Foil)
Chamley-Watson, ranked No. 7 in the world, is the first U.S. man to win an individual world title in the foil (2013), and he helped the foil team to its first world championships medal (silver) the same year. After finishing fourth at the 2012 Olympic Games, Chamley-Watson helped the U.S. foil team win a bronze medal at the 2016 Games.
Race Imboden (Foil)
A member of that historic U.S. men’s foil team that won a silver medal at the 2013 world championships, he made more history in 2015 when he became the first U.S. man to win the FIE Overall World Cup title after becoming just the second U.S. man to reach the No. 1 ranking. In addition to walking the piste, he’s walked the runway as a fashion model for Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton. He holds a No. 8 world ranking.
Gerek Meinhardt (Foil)
A three-time Olympian and three-time world medalist, the California native and foil specialist became the first U.S. man to win a world championship medal (bronze, 2010), and the first to win two individual world medals with another bronze in 2015. He has three world medals, including the men’s foil team’s first-ever medal (silver, 2013). In 2008, he was the youngest U.S. man to compete in the Beijing Games.
Lee Kiefer (Foil)
Ranked No. 2 in the world in foil, Kiefer won a bronze medal at the 2011 world championships. Kiefer is only the second U.S. women’s foil fencer to earn a world medal. She is also the second to win a grand prix title (2016). She defeated two-time Olympic champion Inna Deriglazova of Russia in March to become the first U.S. woman in foil history to earn the No. 1 world ranking.
Nicole Ross (Foil)
A seven-time world team member, the foil specialist is a 2012 Olympian and assistant fencing coach at Cornell University. Ranked No. 5 in the world, the New York native has posted six top-eight finishes this season with three trips to the podium. She has finished ranked second in the U.S. the last two years to Kiefer.
Eli Dershwitz (Saber)
This is the fifth senior world championship berth for Dershwitz, a saber specialist ranked No. 11 in the world who competed in the 2016 Olympic Games. He won a junior world individual title as well as a bronze medal in the team event in 2015. He owns a win over two-time Olympic champion Aron Szilagyi of Hungary, accomplished in May during the semifinals of the Madrid World Cup.
Daryl Homer (Saber)
At the 2016 Olympic Games, Homer became the first U.S. men’s saber fencer to win an individual silver medal since 1904, and he’s also the first U.S. man to win a saber medal at worlds thanks to his individual silver in 2015. Homer is ranked No. 3 in the world heading into his eighth world championships.
Jeff Spear (Saber)
A member of the 2012 Olympic team, Spear helped the saber team to a fifth-place finish at the 2015 world championships after finishing sixth in 2014 and eighth in 2013. Competing for Columbia, he earned an NCAA title in 2008.
Monica Aksamit (Saber)
A New York native, Aksamit was a member of the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist saber team. She is making her third appearance at senior world championships. She won two NCAA titles and was a three-time finalist while at Penn State.
Ibtihaj Muhammad (Saber)
Muhammad made history at the 2016 Games when she became the first U.S. woman to compete in the Olympics in hijab, helping the women’s saber team win a bronze medal. Ranked No. 8 in the world, Muhammad was on the list of the 2016 Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. This is her sixth world championships, and she has won a medal in each, including the 2014 team saber gold.
Dagmara Wozniak (Saber)
The Poland-born Wozniak helped Team USA’s saber team to a world title in 2014 after earning bronze medals at the previous three championships. The two-time Olympian picked up a 2016 Olympic bronze medal in the team event as well. She owns a win over Olympic champion Yana Egorian of Russia from January.
Other members of the 2017 USA Fencing World Championships Team include:
Men’s epee: Two-time world medalist Benjamin Bratton, Adam Rodney and Cooper Schumacher
Women’s epee: Anna van Brummen
Women’s foil: Margaret Lu and Sabrina Massialas, a four-time world team member and the first U.S. fencer to win a Youth Olympic Games gold medal (2014)
Men’s saber team: Geoffrey Loss
Women’s saber: Three-time world medalist Eliza Stone