Rio 2016 venue: Carioca Arena 3 – Olympic Park (Barra Zone)
Competition dates: Aug. 6-14
Medal events: 10 (men’s and women’s individual foil, saber and epee; men’s and women’s team saber; men’s team epee; women’s team foil)
Olympic introduction: 1896 (Athens, Greece)

Heading into the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the U.S. Fencing Team holds tremendous amount of depth in all six squads with 10 of the 17 team members holding top-16 world rankings, including four athletes who are each ranked in the top four in the world in their respective weapons.

The U.S. Olympic Fencing Team had its most successful FIE Senior World Championships in 2015 when Americans won one team and four individual medals. The U.S. foil program was a force to be reckoned with at the event in Moscow, where Alexander Massialas and Gerek Meinhardt won silver and bronze in the men’s event, and Nzingha Prescod took bronze in the women’s competition. The saber teams also had success with Daryl Homer winning silver and the women’s saber team taking bronze. Lee Kiefer, a 2011 senior world bronze medalist, missed the podium by the narrowest of margins after a loss in the quarterfinals, but remains a podium hopeful in Rio as the No. 3 ranked women’s foil fencer in the world with podium finishes at the last four events on the World Cup circuit.  

Team USA is looking to build on its 2015 success at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio where the men’s foil team – previously ranked No. 1 in the world – is looking to earn its first Olympic medal since 1932. The U.S. men’s foil team has been nearly unstoppable this year, winning medals at five of the season’s six events, including three golds. Individually, all three Americans are podium contenders with Massialas holding the No. 1 world ranking and Meinhardt sitting in fourth. Miles Chamley-Watson has also stood on the podium this season and is known for rising to the occasion after winning the world championship title in 2013 when he became the first U.S. man to win an individual gold.  

On the women’s side, the U.S. saber team won its fifth straight senior world in 2015. After sitting out the team event in 2012, the Americans are eager to return to the podium, both individually and as a team. While injuries hampered the women’s saber fencers at the 2015 World Championships, two-time Olympic gold medalist Mariel Zagunis is ranked No. 3 in the world and is looking to recapture her crown from the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games.

While saber and foil tend to favor consistency, epee is the weapon where first-time medalists are most common at the Olympic Games and little is subjective. The field will be wide open in Rio and the U.S. women’s epee team is aiming for a repeat of the upsets that led to the bronze medal in London. Sisters Kelley and Courtney Hurley will return to the Olympic Games in Rio, where they are joined by three-time senior world team member Katharine Holmes.

While men’s and women’s epee, women’s saber and men’s foil will feature individual and team events, women’s foil and men’s saber will be individual only and will include a smaller field size with just two per country as a maximum. Although this limits team size, the United States qualified the maximum of two athletes in each of these events with Kiefer and Prescod earning positions in women’s foil and Homer being joined by 2015 Pan American Games Champion Eli Dershwitz in men’s saber.

Athletes To Watch
Daryl Homer 
Homer won his first career grand prix medal last year in Seoul, South Korea, and established himself as one to watch in Rio when he won silver at the 2015 Senior World Championships, becoming the first U.S. men’s saber fencer in history to medal at the event.

Lee Kiefer
After becoming the youngest U.S. women’s foil fencer ever to win a medal at the FIE Senior World Championships at age 17 in 2011, Kiefer has posted career-best results during the last two years, becoming the first American woman to win three world cup medals, and defeating world and Olympic champions in the process. In June, Kiefer won silver at the Shanghai Grand Prix – the third straight medal on the circuit for the 22-year-old who followed with what came to be known as the “Lee-Peat” – a record-breaking seventh straight individual title at the Pan American Championships. Although the University of Notre Dame pre-med major took an Olympic redshirt this year, she juggled training for Rio with taking the MCAT in between world cup events.

Alexander Massialas
Ranked No. 1 in the world, foil fencer Massialas was the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic Team from any sport in 2012, but has grown into one of the most successful men’s foil fencers on the circuit, winning silver at the 2015 World Championships and ending the 2015-16 season with a pair of gold medals at the Shanghai Grand Prix and Pan American Championships in June. In addition to being an outstanding individual fencer, the Stanford University engineering major also anchors the U.S. in the team event and is best known for his clutch performances and jaw-dropping scoring runs in high-pressure situations.

Gerek Meinhardt 
The first U.S. man to win a medal at the FIE Senior World Championships in 2010, Meinhardt will only be 26 years old when he takes the strip at his third Olympic Games. Now a three-time FIE Senior World Championships medalist, Meinhardt finished his MBA at the University of Notre Dame while also becoming the first U.S. man ever to earn a No. 1 world ranking in foil in 2014. 

Mariel Zagunis 
The most decorated fencer in U.S. history, Zagunis won five individual medals on the FIE World Cup circuit despite her struggle with injuries. Zagunis has demonstrated time and again that she can dispatch any saber fencer in the world who comes her way. Although the Rio Olympics will be her fourth Games, she has only competed in the team event once. In Rio, she will try to become the first women’s saber athlete to win double gold medals at the Olympic Games.


  • Ibtihaj Muhammad narrowly missed qualifying for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, but will make history in Rio as the first U.S. athlete to compete at the Olympic Games in a hijab. The Duke University graduate launched her own fashion line and balances training with her role on the U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls through Sport.
  • In 2004, Mariel Zagunis won the first gold medal in women’s saber at an Olympic Games – a feat she repeated in 2008. Currently ranked No. 3 in the world, the five-time senior world champion is slated to make a run for her third individual Olympic gold medal, and become the first women’s saber fencer to hold both an individual and team Olympic title. Already the most decorated U.S. fencer in history, Zagunis anchored the U.S. women’s saber team to its first gold medal at a FIE Senior World Championship since 2005 when Team USA won gold in 2014.
  • The 2016 U.S. Olympic Fencing Team continues to be one of the most diverse teams representing the United States in Rio. Nearly 50 percent of the 17 athletes on this year’s squad are of Asian or African-American heritage with two athletes (Prescod and Muhammad) coming from the Peter Westbrook Foundation – a program founded in New York City by six-time Olympian Peter Westbrook to introduce the sport of fencing to underserved populations.
  • The 2016 U.S. Olympic Fencing Team features two pairs of family connections. After winning bronze in the team event at the London 2012 Games, women’s epee fencers Kelley and Courtney Hurley are aiming both to return to the team podium as well as to win their first individual medals. While the two have competed against each other for more than 15 years, they have never fenced each other in international competition outside of the Pan American Games and Pan American Championships. The Hurley sisters each qualified for the women’s epee individual and team events in Rio, marking the first time both sisters will fence in the individual event at an Olympic Games. The Hurleys grew up being coached by their father, Bob Hurley, who is a former modern pentathlete. Meanwhile, men’s foil fencer Alexander Massialas will have his father in his corner in Rio. A three-time Olympian, Greg Massialas not only coaches Alexander, but is the head coach of the U.S. men’s foil team.
  • Once voted the “Brainiest Team” at the 2008 Olympic Games, Team USA’s fencers’ outside occupations are as diverse as their personalities. Epee fencer Katharine Holmes works in a neuroscience lab at Princeton University, where she will be a senior in the fall. Additionally, foil fencers Race Imboden and Miles Chamley-Watson are both models who have walked runways during Fashion Week, with Imboden being a catalog model for J. Crew. An advertising major at St. John’s University, Daryl Homer joined the staff at Anomaly, an agency in New York, as an account executive in 2013 and transitioned to the role of athlete in residence in 2015 in order to train full time while still serving in a consulting role.