Gerek Meinhardt stands on the podium at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 6, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
LIMA, PERU – Men’s foil fencer Gerek Meinhardt and women’s sabre fencer Eliza Stone took advantage of fast starts in their gold medal bouts and held off comebacks to secure the gold Tuesday at the Pan American Games Lima 2019.
Meinhardt outlasted Gustavo Alarcon of Chile, 15-11, while Stone defeated Maria Perez of Argentina, 15-13. Race Imboden added a bronze in the men’s foil after losing a semifinal bout to Alarcon, 15-13.
Meinhardt’s aggressive approach in the final contributed to a 7-0 advantage before Alarcon responded by narrowing the score to 10-8.
“When your lead gets erased like that, you just have to focus on the next touch,” Meinhardt said. “Regardless of what the score is, that’s always my mentality. I was happy I scored those seven in a row because I still had a lead when he came out like that. I just had to focus.”
After a timeout, Meinhardt regained that focus and returned to form. He scored the next two touches, traded points for a bit, then finished strong with the last two touches to secure the gold.
“It’s incredible, getting to represent the U.S. fencing with a gold medal,” Meinhardt said. “It’s always fun to go out there and represent your country. When you come out on top, it’s even more special.”
Alarcon’s victory over Imboden in the semifinal eliminated the possibility of an all-American final. Imboden was behind for much of the match after Alarcon jumped out to a 3-1 lead. However, when trailing 7-10, Imboden battled back to knot the score at 10. The two traded points for a few more rounds before Alarcon pulled away in the end, securing his spot in the gold medal match and handing Imboden the bronze medal.
“Keeping a level head is the hardest skill to obtain in fencing,” Stone said. “I’ve been working really, really hard on exactly that. I have to keep my calm and composure under pressure. You can never let yourself think it’s all lost.”
Indeed, the match was not lost, as Stone responded to Perez’s run by scoring the next two touches. Not to be outdone, Perez responded with two of her own. The two battled down the stretch, trading touches up until a tie at 13.
Stone kept the level head she had worked so hard to attain, and she scored the final two points to secure the gold.
“It feels amazing to do this not just for myself but for the U.S.,” Stone said. “This is my first Pan American Games, so I’m not used to the hype and honor associated with it. I’m just trying to roll with it and do what I can to contribute. I’m very, very happy to bring it home after a tough mental match.”