Gerek Meinhardt

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U.S. fencers take bronze in men’s team foil

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Prior to Friday the last time the United States won a medal in the men’s team foil competition was 1932. Thanks to Gerek Meinhardt, Alexander Massialas, Miles Chamley-Watson and Race Imboden, that dry spell came to an end in Rio.

After falling to Russia in the semifinal round the Americans rebounded in the bronze medal match, beating Italy 45-31 to earn the nation’s first medal in that event in 84 years. After victories by Daniele Garozzo and Giorgia Avola gave Italy a 20-17 lead through four bouts, Meinhardt shifted the momentum of the bronze medal match by posting a dominant 8-0 win over Andrea Baldina. Massialas would follow with a 5-1 win over Garozzo, and Meinahrdt’s 5-1 win over Avola gave the Americans a 35-22 lead through seven bouts.

WATCH: U.S. takes bronze in men’s team foil

Imboden and Massialas’ bouts would close out the match for the U.S., which defeated the reigning World and Olympic champions in taking bronze. The U.S. has now won three Olympic medals in fencing in Rio, with Massialas being responsible for two of them. Massialas took silver in the individual foil, losing to Garozzo in the gold medal match, and Daryl Homer took silver in the individual sabre.

Massialas became the first American fencer to win two medals in the same Olympics since 1932, when Joseph Levis accomplished that feat.

France and Russia advanced to the gold medal match, with Russia coming back to win 45-41. The Russians trailed after each of the first seven bouts, but an emphatic 10-3 win by Artur Akhmatkhuzin in the eighth bout sparked the turnaround that earned Russia the gold medal.

Two more fencers qualify for U.S. Olympic team

Alexander Massialas
AP
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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.

They are the 19th and 20th members of the U.S. Olympic team across all sports. View the complete roster here.

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.

At the London Olympics, 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.

VIDEO: Chamley-Watson takes fencing to New York City streets