U.S. Fencers assert dominance at Pan-American Championships in Toronto
Fencers from the U.S. have dominated the recently completed Pan-American Fencing Championships in Toronto, Canada, winning ten out of a possible twelve team and individual gold medals during six days of competition from June 27- July 2.
While gold in both the men’s individual and team epee went to Venezuala’s Ruben Limardo and Cuba, respectively — preventing a total clean sweep — USA fencer’s won every other gold medal available to them at this year’s regional championships.
Starting on Thursday, Eli Dershwitz fenced to the level his world number one sabre ranking suggests, making it to the final comfortably, where he came up against his more experienced teammate Daryl Homer. While Homer pushed his younger rival to a 15-14 score line, he ultimately couldn’t prevent Dershwitz from completing a hat-trick of wins at this level since 2017.
In the women’s foil, Nicole Ross pulled off a surprise by winning her first ever career Pan-Am gold after five appearances on the podium, including four straight since 2015. In doing so, she broke the incredible run of nine straight victories at this championship by teammate Lee Keifer, a run which stretches all the way back to 2010. Canada’s highest-ranked fencer, Eleanor Harvey (17) defeated Kiefer in their quarterfinal, 15-13, which also meant that Kiefer slipped down the world rankings to 6th place in the lead up to this months world championships in Budapest. Ross subsequently defeated Harvey (6-5) in their semifinal before claiming her first Pan-American title, 11-10, over another Canadian hope, Jessica Zi Jia Guo.
There were fewer surprises in the men’s foil, with all four members of USA’s number-one-ranked dream team occupying four of the top five positions. At the top was current world number two Race Imboden, who made it three wins in a row at this level after a dominant (15-4) victory over Brazil’s Guilherme Toldo in the final. Toldo had beaten Massialas to reach it (15-14), while Imboden was too strong for teammate Gerek Meinhardt (15-7). Young gun Nick Itkin finished fifth after running into the in-form Brazilian at the quarterfinal stage, going down by one point, 14-15.
Kelley Hurley continued the gold rush in the women’s epee by winning the fifth Pan-American title of her career, overcoming Venezuela’s Maria Martinez 15-7 in the gold medal match. To get there she defeated Brazil’s Nathalie Moellhausen in the semifinal (15-11) and before that her higher ranked teammate Katherine Holmes, 15-12. Kelley’s sister Courtney, who has won the title three times (’09, ’13 and ’14) exited at the table of 16 to finish 10th, while teammate Catherine Nixon was 9th.
In the women’s sabre, USA achieved its second 1-2 finish of the competition, with 2018 world championship bronze medalist Anne-Elizabeth Stone claiming her first regional gold. Coming up against teammate and two-time Olympic and world champion, Mariel Zagunis — also a six-time winner at this event — 5th –ranked Stone upset her more experienced opponent 15-14. Zagunis had earlier had a walkover against another teammate, Dagmara Wozniak, to reach the medal rounds, while Stone fought off Argentina’s Maria Belen Perez Maurice.
On the final day of individual competition, it was world number three Ruben Limardo from Venezuela who was too good for a strong field in the men’s epee. Defeating USA’s Chris McDowald at the quarterfinal stage (15-10), he then ran into his younger brother, Jesus, in the final winning by the narrowest of margins, 15-14.
In the teams events, USA’s depth of talent proved too much for the other nations winning all but the men’s epee, which went to Cuba, who defeated the USA 45-38.
Full Medal Table