In the years since the Olympic Games were last contested, the U.S. women’s foil fencing team has earned a No. 1 world ranking, won a trio of medals at the world championships and collected enough world cup medals to fill a nice display case at home.
Now the team will try adding to that haul by winning the program’s second Olympic medal.
With a silver medal Sunday at the world cup stop in Kazan, Russia, the team officially qualified for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Team USA ended the Olympic qualification period with its first medal of the world cup season, a silver earned by Iman Blow, Jackie Dubrovich, Lee Kiefer and Sabrina Massialas, plus a top-four world ranking.
In Russia, the U.S. took down Egypt, 45-28; Japan, 45-37; and Poland, 45-36, before falling to world No. 2 Italy, 45-27, in the gold-medal match.
It was an impressive result for a team that included only one Olympian in Kiefer, though at least one of those names will almost certainly join her in Tokyo later this year.
No U.S. women’s foil fencer has won an individual Olympic medal since the event was added to the Olympic Games in 1924, though the U.S. squad did win a team silver medal at the Beijing Games in 2008.
The Americans have emerged as a top contender in the sport in recent years, however, and the team has accomplished a lot of big firsts in recent years that could all lead to a mighty big second in Tokyo.
The silver medal Team USA won at the 2017 world championships, for instance, was its best finish ever at worlds until the next year, when it won gold. That also marked the first time an American foil fencing team of either gender won a world title.
In January 2019, the team earned its first-ever world No. 1 ranking.
The core three on those U.S. teams was Kiefer, 2012 Olympian Nicole Ross and two-time Olympian Nzingha Prescod. Margaret Lu was on the 2017 and 2018 teams, and Dubrovich was part of the team at the most recent world championships, when Team USA won a bronze medal. Last August, Kiefer, Ross and Dubrovich combined to win the Pan American Games gold medal in Lima, Peru.
With the team Olympic qualification secured, Team USA will now bring three individual women’s foil fencers to Tokyo, while a fourth will also make the trip as a replacement athlete eligible only for the team competition.
The team will look a little different this year, with Prescod having announced her retirement last month due to a painful hip condition.
One of those spots will be filled by Kiefer, who became the first U.S. fencer to qualify individually for the Tokyo Games a month ago. She was a part of every team that medaled at the world championships the past three years, and this will be her third trip to the Olympic Games.
Dubrovich, Ross, Blow and 2014 Youth Olympic champion Massialas hold the next four spots in the latest USA Fencing rankings that will decide the Olympic team.