Consistency, more so than actual medals won, has helped keep 2016 Olympian Eli Dershwitz at the top of the world rankings this season in men’s saber fencing.
Dershwitz had finished fifth in each of the last five world cup and grand prix tournaments after winning the world cup event in Poland at the beginning of February.
At the final grand prix event of the season, however, Dershwitz did pick up a piece of hardware that should ensure he will remain No. 1 in the world when he won the silver medal in Moscow. France’s Bolade Apithy, who was ranked No. 16 coming into the tournament, scored the upset in a 15-10 victory in the championship match.
Dershwitz’s silver medal is not the only prized possession he will receive this week. The two-time NCAA champion is expected to graduate from Harvard with a degree in history on Thursday, May 30.
Apithy defeated world No. 3 Max Hartung of Germany in the semifinal while Dershwitz fended off fifth-ranked Luca Curatoli of Italy. Korea’s Sanguk Oh, who was ranked second and had won the last three grand prix events in a row, was eliminated in the round of 32 and couldn’t challenge Dershwitz for the world No. 1 spot.
Apithy took the first point and Dershwitz needed to change his glove, waiting for a dry one to be brought to him. The 2018 world silver medalist then took the lead but Apithy tied it again at 4-4 and went on a nine-point run that left Dershwitz on his heels. Apithy led 8-4 at the break, during which trainers attended to an injury to the index finger on Dershwitz’s non-weapon hand.
Coming out of the break, Dershwitz seemed to gain his footing, ending Apithy’s run and closing to within five points at 13-8. But his late effort wasn’t enough to come back against the surging Frenchman.
Olympic silver medalist Daryl Homer finished 18th.