The U.S. men’s foil fencing team continued its world cup medal streak and launched what could turn into a new winning streak on Sunday in Paris.
The top-ranked men not only won world cup medal No. 14 in a row but also earned the gold in a come-from-behind victory over Italy, 45-36.
In their last outing, the U.S. men saw their six-competition winning streak come to an end but nonetheless won silver in the final world cup of 2019. On Sunday, they defeated Hungary, 45-21, then Japan, 45-29, and Hong Kong, 45-27, to face Italy for the title and the chance to return to their winning ways.
The No. 1-ranked U.S. fell behind from the first bout and struggled to catch up throughout the first third of the match. In his second time on the piste, world No. 4 and two-time Olympian Race Imboden lifted the U.S. from an eight- to a one-point deficit, dominating his bout against Alessio Foconi.
Italy held an 18-16 lead when Nick Itkin stepped back in to face Daniele Garozzo. It was a rematch of the previous day’s gold-medal individual meeting, which saw Itkin win his first senior individual world cup. Itkin tied it 18-18, then gave the U.S. its first lead of the match, but the U.S. trailed, 25-23, for No. 9 Alexander Massialas taking over against Andrea Cassara.
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The tide was already turning in favor of the U.S., and with a commanding performance Massialas put them ahead 30-26 for Itkin to come back in. He increased the lead to eight, Imboden kept it going and Massialas put the final stamp on the victory. No. 8 Gerek Meinhardt did not compete in the final.
The impressive run for the U.S. dates back to the final competition of the 2016-17 season and has continued through all five events of both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, as well as the first three of 2019-20. Included in the six-event winning streak that ended in December was a gold medal at the world championships. The U.S. has already secured a team quota spot for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
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.