Two-time Olympian Race Imboden is enjoying the view from the top of the podium.
Imboden, who was the first American man to win an overall world cup title in fencing and was the top-ranked men’s foil fencer in the world in 2015, added his first career grand prix individual gold medal to his resume Sunday. The sixth-ranked Imboden defeated three-time Olympic medalist Andrea Cassara of Italy in the gold-medal match in the Anaheim Convention Center in California, the site of the only U.S.-hosted grand prix this season.
Imboden was coming off three consecutive world cup team wins with 2016 Olympic teammates Miles Chamley-Watson, Alexander Massialas and Gerek Meinhardt. All are ranked among the top 20 in the world and they combined to win the team bronze medal at the Olympic Games Rio 2016. Imboden last stood on an individual international podium when he took bronze at the Cairo World Cup in October 2017.
Imboden wasn’t the only American to emerge with a podium finish Sunday. Lee Kiefer, a two-time Olympian and the first U.S. women’s foil fencer to achieve a world No. 1 ranking, placed third after losing in the semifinals by one point to 2016 Olympic champion and 2017 world champion Inna Deriglazova of Russia.
After finishing off the winning point Sunday night in Anaheim, Imboden pointed his sword into the air and pumped his fists. He won the six of the match’s first seven points, then held off Cassara for a 15-10 victory. Cassara is a two-time Olympic team champion and the 2004 individual Olympic bronze medalist.
On the way to the championship match, Imboden’s wins included defeating fourth-ranked Timur Safin of Russia in the quarterfinals and 57th-ranked Damiano Rosatelli of Italy in the semifinals.
Kiefer fell behind Deriglazova 6-1 early in their match, but Kiefer rallied to tie the match at 12-12 and 14-14 before losing the game’s final point. Deriglazova cruised to her second consecutive grand prix gold medal with a 15-3 win in the title match against Germany’s Anne Sauer.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is sports editor of the Cape Cod Times and a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.