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U.S. fencing wraps up its most successful world champs ever

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The U.S. fencing team had its best world championships ever, earning six medals with two golds in Wuxi, China.

The Americans won the women’s team events in épée and foil for the first time. Courtney Hurley (épée) and Eliza Stone (sabre) added bronze medals. World sabre No. 1 Eli Dershwitz took silver, while the men’s foil team added silver on the final day Friday.

The total surpassed the previous U.S. record of five medals at 2015 Worlds.

The Americans performed well in Wuxi despite getting no individual medals from its Rio Olympic medalists and past world champions.

Mariel Zagunis, the most decorated fencer in U.S. history with four combined individual Olympic and world titles, competed only in the team sabre event, where the U.S. was fifth.

The 33-year-old is working her way back from October childbirth and was ranked fifth nationally when the four individual roster spots for worlds were chosen. A fifth fencer is eligible for the team event.

Olympic silver medalists Daryl Homer (sabre) and Alex Massialas (foil) lost in the round of 16 and round of 64, respectively.

Ibtihaj Muhammad, who in Rio became the first American to compete in an Olympics in a hijab, has not competed at the top international level since the 2017 World Championships. She just published an autobiography.

Dershwitz’s rise is worth noting. He debuted at the Olympics in Rio as a rising Harvard sophomore and lost in the first round.

In 2015, Dershwitz became the first U.S. man to earn a world junior sabre title, but he had never made it past the round of 32 at senior worlds until this year. Dershwitz’s first World Cup wins in November and February combined with his silver medal this week vaulted him to No. 1 in the world rankings.

Hurley, who lost opening bouts at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, earned her first individual medal at her 10th world championships appearance. She also became the first U.S. épée fencer to earn a world medal.

Stone’s bronze was also a surprise. She is the fourth-ranked U.S. woman in sabre and had never made it past the round of 16 in three previous world appearances. Stone narrowly missed the Rio Olympic team but is now ranked 12th in the world.

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Siblings qualify for U.S. Olympic fencing team

Courtney Hurley, Kelly Hurley
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Épée fencers Courtney and Kelley Hurley are the first siblings to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

The Hurleys will return to the Olympics in Rio in August thanks to results in recent international competitions and their places in national team standings.

At London 2012, Courtney, 25, finished 22nd individually and earned bronze with the U.S. épée team. Kelley was also on the bronze-medal team but did not compete individually.

In 2008, Kelley placed 20th individually, when women’s épée didn’t have a team event.

So Rio will be the first Olympics where both Hurleys compete individually.

The Hurleys are the fifth and sixth fencers to qualify for the Olympic team, joining women’s sabre fencers Mariel Zagunis and Ibtihaj Muhammad and men’s foil fencers Gerek Meinhardt and Alexander Massialas.

One U.S. épée fencer has earned an individual Olympic medal — George Calnan‘s bronze in 1928.

The U.S. Olympic team of more than 500 athletes will almost surely include more siblings, most notably Olympic tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams. Nine sets of siblings were on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team.

MORE: Full list of athletes qualified for U.S. Olympic team