With two months left to the end of the Olympic qualifying period for international fencing teams, the U.S. women’s epee team has already secured its Olympic quota spot following a world cup bronze medal in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday. The result was the third medal in the past four world cups for Team USA.
Women’s epee is the second U.S. fencing team to earn an Olympic quota, following the world No. 1 men’s foil team. Each of the six team fencing competitions will have eight or nine nations at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Three women’s epee fencers, plus one alternate, will head to Tokyo this summer in search of the nation’s second-ever Olympic medal in the event, following a bronze medal at the London 2012 Games.
Team USA first signaled it was on track for Olympic success in 2020 after winning the 2018 world title, marking the team’s first world championship medal in program history.
Two of the bronze medalists from the London 2012 Games are likely to be in Tokyo as well: sisters Courtney Hurley and Kelley Hurley, who have a combined five Olympic Games under their belts. 2016 Olympian Katharine Holmes and Anna Van Brummen currently trail them in the national team point standings.
Those four athletes made up the team competing in Barcelona on Sunday.
Facing Russia for third place, the women surged ahead in the second half for a 45-27 victory and their second team medal of the season.
The U.S. defeated Romania, 45-38, in the table of 16 then moved on to beat Hong Kong, 44-34, to reach the semifinals. Running into South Korea put an end to the team’s gold medal hopes. The U.S. lost 45-32 to set up the bronze-medal match against Russia, which lost to China in the semifinals.
The score was tied midway through the match. Courtney Hurley came in for her second time fencing and outscored Tatiana Gudkova, 4-1, to give the U.S. the lead. Van Brummen took it from there and won her bout against Violetta Khrapina and the U.S. led 27-22 when Hurley came back in.
By the time Holmes stepped onto the piste for the anchor bout, the U.S. held a 33-22 lead. She beat Gudkova handily to end the match. Kelley Hurley also fenced for the U.S. on Sunday, although not in the bronze-medal match.
The team opened this world cup season with a bronze medal in Tallinn, Estonia. That contest was also the first Olympic qualifying event of the new season, with teams scoring points between now and April and the top four getting spots at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The U.S. went into this weekend ranked fifth overall in the world standings.