Nowhere is the U.S. more deep in fencing than in men’s foil, with four of the top 10 in the world.
Two of those four qualified for the Rio Olympics based on rankings updated after a competition last weekend — world No. 1 Alexander Massialas and No. 6 Gerek Meinhardt.
Expect No. 5 Race Imboden and No. 10 Miles Chamley-Watson to join them on the Rio team, qualifying by mid-April. That quartet also made up the 2012 U.S. Olympic men’s foil team.
Imboden and Chamley-Watson are now battling to see who will be the third individual U.S. men’s foil fencer in Rio, with the fourth going to the Games as a possible competitor in the team event only.
Though Imboden is ranked higher internationally, it’s Chamley-Watson who controls his own destiny as he is better-placed in U.S. Fencing rankings that determine the Rio roster.
Since 2014, Massialas, Meinhardt and Imboden have all been ranked No. 1 in the world at one time or another. Chamley-Watson is a former world No. 2 and the only U.S. man to earn a World or Olympic title (2013 Worlds) in any fencing event.
Massialas took silver and Meinhardt bronze at the 2015 World Championships. Imboden reached the round of 16. Chamley-Watson lost in the first round to German Peter Joppich, a four-time World champion.
In London, Massialas and Imboden were eliminated in the round of 16 and Chamley-Watson in the round of 32.
Meinhardt, who competed at Beijing 2008 as the youngest U.S. Olympic fencer ever, joined them in the team event, where the U.S. fell in the semifinals and the bronze-medal matchup. All were age 22 and younger at the London Games.
With four of the top 10 in the world, the U.S. could go into Rio as the favorite in the team event, though it fell in the 2015 Worlds quarterfinals to eventual champion Italy.
U.S. women’s sabre fencers Mariel Zagunis and Ibtihaj Muhammad qualified for the Olympics the previous weekend.
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