Eli Dershwitz earned bronze at the men’s saber grand prix Sunday in Seoul, South Korea, for his third international medal since November.
Precise work in two close-fought bouts allowed the 2016 Olympian to emerge with the top-three finish. The 22-year-old first defeated 2004 Olympic champion Aldo Montano of Italy 15-12 in the quarterfinals. Faced with 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Junghwan Kim of South Korea in the semifinal, the Harvard junior lost 15-13. He finished in bronze medal position with Russia’s Kamil Ibragimov, who was defeated 15-9 in his own semi match versus saber king Aron Szilagyi of Hungary.
Szilagyi, the two-time reigning Olympic champion, proved once again unbeatable. In Sunday evening’s final at the SK Handball Stadium, Szilagyi relegated Kim to silver before his home audience, 15-7.
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Dershwitz, 19th at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, has now achieved a career-high world ranking of third after his string of podium appearances. In February, he defeated Szilagyi to earn his first major title at the world cup in Padua, Italy. He also won in Algeria in November for the first world cup gold of his career.
In the women’s competition, saber superstar Mariel Zagunis, the Olympic gold medalist in 2004 and 2008, finished eighth after being defeated 15-6 by Anna Marton of Hungary in the quarterfinals. Ukraine’s Olga Kharlan eventually defeated Marton 15-7 to take the title, while Germany’s Anna Limbach and Romania’s Bianca Pascu completed the podium.
The 33-year-old Zagunis, America’s most decorated fencer with four Olympic medals and 13 world medals, is making a comeback to competition after giving birth to daughter Sunday Noelle in October. Her last competition was the 2017 Seoul Grand Prix, where she won bronze while pregnant.
Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.