Fencing Preview
The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, now scheduled to take place in 2021, will mark the first time both individual and team competitions will be held in all six weapons (men’s and women’s epee, foil and saber) and Team USA is expected to have medal contenders in each weapon. 

The U.S. Olympic Fencing Team won four medals at Rio 2016 with nearly all of those medalists vying for positions on the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team. 

The U.S. men’s foil team is favored to return to the podium after its bronze medal finish in Rio with three of the four members of the 2016 team eligible to represent Team USA in Tokyo. Alexander Massialas and Gerek Meinhardt have qualified for the first two of the three individual slots available in Rio with Race Imboden and two-time junior world champion Nick Itkin eligible for the third individual position. Whichever athlete does not qualify for the individual event will travel to Tokyo as the replacement athlete for the team event only. The Americans are the reigning senior world champions in the team event with a world cup medal streak that has lasted since the Rio Games. With all four athletes ranked in the top eight in the world at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season, Team USA also has strong potential to medal in the individual event, with Massialas returning as the 2016 Olympic silver medalist. 

Both the women’s foil and epee teams won gold for the first time ever at the senior world championships in 2018 with the women’s foil squad now earning three-straight team medals at the senior world championships (silver in 2017, gold in 2018 and bronze in 2019). Each squad has potential individual medal contenders as well with Courtney Hurley earning bronze at the 2018 senior world championships and 2011 senior world bronze medalist Lee Kiefer earning three podium finishes on the world cup circuit during the 2019-20 season. In January, World No. 5 Kiefer became the first U.S. fencer to qualify for an individual berth on the U.S. Olympic Fencing Team after her bronze medal win at the Katwoice World Cup.   

In the men’s saber event, Rio Olympic silver medalist Daryl Homer has his eyes on a return to the podium, but it is his teammate, Eli Dershwitz, who earned the first individual slot on the men’s saber team with a silver medal win at the Warsaw World Cup in February. Dershwitz ended the 2017-18 season as the overall world cup champion and 2018 senior world silver medalist. Just 19 years old at his first Olympic Games in 2016, Dershwitz is currently ranked No. 4 in the world and the top American in his field.  

Two-time Olympic champion Mariel Zagunis qualified for a fifth Olympic appearance in women’s saber in February when she won gold at the Athens World Cup – the site of her first Olympic title in 2004. Two of her Rio teammates – Dagmara Wozniak and Monica Aksamit – are each seeking to qualify for Tokyo after winning bronze in 2016. Eliza Stone won bronze at the 2018 senior world championships and is a front-runner for Tokyo as the No. 4 fencer in the world.  

In men’s epee, Jake Hoyle and Curtis McDowald ended a nearly eight-year drought for the squad with both athletes earning individual medals on the world cup circuit in 2018-19 and hope to continue this trend heading into the 2020 Games.

Updated on July 19, 2020. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

Rivals and Mothers: Mariel Zagunis made history in 2004 as the first U.S. fencer to win Olympic gold in 100 years. Now a mother of daughter Sunday, Zagunis has new motivation – inspiring her daughter who will be three years old in Tokyo. While Zagunis would likely be the only mother on the U.S. Fencing Team, one of her top rivals, Sofya Velikaya of Russia, is a mother of two and also a contender for a third podium finish at 35 years old. 

Depth in Men’s Foil: The United States has never won a gold medal in an Olympic fencing team event and the U.S. men’s foil team is aiming to change that. As the No. 1 team in the world for the last three seasons and the reigning senior world team champions, Team USA is seeking to reach the top step of the podium and is guaranteed to have three podium contenders in the individual event as well: contenders Alexander Masssialas, Gerek Meinhardt, Race Imboden and Nick Itkin each rank among the top eight in the world and each have won medals on the world cup circuit this season, with Meinhardt and Itkin clinching gold medals in Torino and Paris, respectively. With Massialas and Meinhardt already qualified, the only question remains: will Imboden or Itkin earn the final individual position on the squad? The fourth athlete will still travel to Tokyo, serving as the replacement athlete for the team event only.

First Couple of Fencing: Olympic teammates Lee Kiefer and Gerek Meinhardt got married on Sept. 1, 2019, and will become the first married couple in more than 20 years to compete together on a U.S. Olympic Fencing Team. Together, the two have competed at the last two Olympic Games (with Meinhardt winning team bronze in Rio) and have won six individual NCAA titles at Notre Dame (four for Kiefer, two for Meinhardt). After their graduations, the university created the annual Kiefer/Meinhardt award, given to the member of the team judged to be the best, most selfless bouting partner. Each other’s training partners and biggest supporters, Kiefer and Meinhardt are leaders on the men’s and women’s squads. Kiefer was anchor of the first U.S. foil team to win a senior world title in 2018 and holds four senior world medals (three team, one individual). Meinhardt holds six senior world championship medals, including gold in the team event in 2019, and is the only U.S. man in any weapon to earn two individual senior world podium finishes. Kiefer and Meinhardt, who earned his MBA from Notre Dame, will return to medical school at the University of Kentucky in the fall of 2020 where Keifer will begin her third year and Meinhardt his first.

Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Massachusetts) 
Dershwitz qualified as the youngest member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team at 19 years old and has since become the first U.S. men’s saber fencer to win the overall world cup title in 2017-18. Dershwitz remains the No. 3 fencer in the world and in February won silver at the world cup in Warsaw, defeating the reigning senior world champion with his only loss coming to the two-time Olympic champion Aron Szilagyi of Hungary in the finals. 

Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, California) 
A 19-time individual medalist on the world cup stage, Alexander Massialas is attempting to upgrade his 2016 Olympic silver medal to a gold and is the anchor of the U.S. men’s foil team who is aiming for its first ever Olympic title. Ranked No. 5 in the world, Massialas medaled on the circuit twice before the season ended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, winning silver at the grand prix in Torino, Italy, and bronze at the world cup in Cairo in the last month alone. 

Gerek Meinhardt (Lexington, Kentucky) 
The greatest challenger to Massialas could be Gerek Meinhardt, who has fenced on the senior national team with Massialas for the last decade. Both fencers also train at the Massialas Foundation, where both fencers are trained by Alexander’s father, three-time Olympian and men’s foil national team coach Greg Massialas. Now a 13-time medalist on the world cup circuit, Meinhardt won silver at the world cup in Bonn, Germany, in November and gold at February’s grand prix in Torino, Italy. Now ranked No. 3 in the world, Meinhardt defeated Massialas in the final in Torino, but lost to his teammate in the quarters in Cairo.

Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Kentucky)
A double threat in individual and team events, Lee Kiefer is the most decorated U.S. women’s foil fencer in history, holding 13 individual world cup and seven grand prix medals. Kiefer anchored the U.S. women’s foil team to a senior world title in 2018, as well as a world silver medal in 2017 and bronze in 2019. With an individual bronze medal at the senior world championships in 2011 and three podium finishes on the world cup circuit this season alone, Kiefer is set to have her breakout moment in Tokyo.

The United States qualified teams for all six weapons (men's and women's epee, foil and saber) through team world rankings prior to the ending of the qualification season due to COVID-19. The top four teams in the world on the FIE Official Team Ranking list at the conclusion of the qualification period qualify both for the team event as well as to have three fencers in the individual event. Each nation may bring a fourth fencer who will be eligible to fence in the team event only as a replacement athlete. In addition to the top four teams in the rankings, the top team in each zone (Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe) will qualify as well, as long as that team is ranked between No. 5 and No. 16 in the rankings. Due to the cancellation of the final qualification event for each weapon in March of 2020, the FIE recently announced the plan to reschedule those events for March of 2021. 

Following the cancellation of international and domestic events beginning on March 11, 2020 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the remaining selection tournaments for Team USA and selection timeline will be announced in the coming months after the finalization of the 2020-21 international schedule. 

The top four fencers on the USA Fencing National Team Point Standings for each weapon squad will earn positions on Team USA with the first three competing in both individual and team and the fourth athlete qualifying as a replacement athlete who is eligible to fence in the team event only. 

Five athletes have already mathematically secured their position on the team in both individual and team events: 

Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Oregon / Women's Saber), two-time Olympic Champion and five-time senior world champion

Gerek Meinhardt (Lexington, Kentucky / Men's Foil), 2016 Olympic team bronze medalist and six-time senior world medalist

Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, California / Men's Foil), two-time Olympian and five-time senior world medalist

Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Kentucky / Women's Foil), two-time Olympian and four-time senior world medalist

- Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Massachusetts / Men's Saber), 2016 Olympian and 2018 senior world medalist

In addition, men's foil fencers Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.), a 2016 Olympic team bronze medalist, and Nick Itkin (Los Angeles, Calif.), a first-time Olympic candidate, each secured berths on the team; however, results from the final qualification event will determine which athlete fences in the individual event and who will serve as the replacement athlete for the team event only. 

View the latest selection criteria here.

TBD: Dates of the final selection events will be announced in the coming months and will be available at www.usafencing.org