The U.S. men’s foil fencing team may have suffered its first defeat in nine months, but its world cup medal run is alive and well.
Alexander Massialas, Race Imboden, Nick Itkin and Gerek Meinhardt advanced to the championship bout at the Olympic test event in Tokyo on Sunday where they lost to France, 45-39, in a matchup between the top two teams in the world that could very well become a rematch in the same venue next summer.
To that point the U.S. had won gold at its last six competitions, including the world championships, but clinching the silver medal made it 13 world cup medals in a row for the top seeds.
It’s an impressive stretch that started with the last competition of the 2016-17 season and continued through all five events of both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, and now the first two of 2019-20.
France stayed just one point ahead of the Americans through the first three pairings, and when Meinhardt stepped onto the piste for his second bout, he put them in the lead, 20-17. They held that position only briefly, however, as Erwann Le Pechoux defeated Itkin 8-3 and France would not relinquish the lead again.
The U.S. defeated Russia in the semifinals and China in the quarterfinals to reach the championship match. Team USA entered the weekend at the top of the international rankings with 436 points followed by France with 320. All four U.S. fencers are ranked in the top 10 in the world, led by No. 2 Imboden.