To say that Sunday was an incredible day for Team USA foil fencers might be underselling it just a bit.
Three ended up going for gold medals between the men’s and women’s competitions at the grand prix in Torino, Italy. If that math seems a little wonky it’s because the men’s final was an all-American meeting between Gerek Meinhardt and Alexander Massialas following an all-American semifinal between Meinhardt and Race Imboden.
By the time it was over, Meinhardt had a gold medal, Massialas and Lee Kiefer had silver medals and Imboden a bronze.
Kiefer became the first U.S. fencer to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in January after she won her second world cup medal of the season. With a sizable lead in the national point standings, Kiefer secured her third trip to the Olympic Games.
Ranked fifth in the world, Kiefer survived a tough semifinal match against No. 2 Alice Volpi of Italy, 15-14, on Sunday and started the final match against France’s Ysaora Thibus on her heels. Thibus opened up a 10-5 advantage but Kiefer responded with the next two points before time ran out on the first period.
She opened the second period the same way and before long it was tied, 13-13. She scored the next point to take the lead before the halfway mark of the second period but despite the furious comeback attempt, Thibus scored the next two points to win gold as Kiefer took silver.
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Next up was her husband, three-time Olympian Meinhardt, who built up a 10-6 lead over 2016 Olympic silver medalist Massialas to start the bout. With a minute and a half left in the first period, Meinhardt was on the verge of victory and seconds later it was over with Meinhardt winning, 15-8.
Meinhardt defeated Imboden, his 2016 Olympic bronze medal teammate and Thibus’ boyfriend, in the semifinal, 15-11. He built up a sizable lead over his teammate, who cut it to two points at 13-11. Meinhardt was able to score the next two points, however, and Imboden took the bronze medal while Meinhardt took a break to watch his wife battle for gold before stepping to the piste to make his own attempt at the top prize. France’s Wallerand Roger was the other bronze medalist, falling 15-2 to Massialas in their semifinal.
Both the men and women have one more world cup remaining during the Olympic qualification period.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.