Last year, Nick Itkin broke through in the U.S.’ deepest fencing discipline to make his first Olympic team at age 21. At the world championships in Cairo on Wednesday, he joined the list of recent American foil greats to win an individual world championships medal.
Itkin took bronze, becoming the first U.S. man to win an individual Olympic or world championships fencing medal since 2018.
He routed 2018 World champion Alessio Foconi of Italy 15-5 in the quarterfinals before falling to defending world champion Enzo Lefort of France 15-14 in the semis. Lefort repeated as gold medalist. There are no bronze-medal bouts at world championships, so all semifinalists are guaranteed a medal.
For the 2010s, a quartet defined U.S. men’s foil. Miles Chamley-Watson, Race Imboden, Alexander Massialas and Gerek Meinhardt made up the Olympic team in 2012 and 2016 and made up world championships medal-winning teams in 2013, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Imboden, Massialas and Meinhardt were each ranked No. 1 in the world at different points. Chamley-Watson, Massialas and Meinhardt all won individual world championships medals.
In 2013, Chamley-Watson became the first U.S. male fencer to win a world title. In 2016, Massialas, then ranked No. 1 in the world, lost in the Olympic final trying to become the first U.S. man to win an Olympic fencing title in the modern era of weapons.
Itkin, the first U.S. citizen from a family that came to the U.S. from Ukraine, shook things up last year by making the Olympic team over Chamley-Watson and making the roster of three for the individual event over Imboden. He was the only American man to win a foil bout in Tokyo but then lost in his second round. Later, the team took bronze.
Itkin, a two-time NCAA individual foil champion at Notre Dame, entered worlds as the highest-ranked U.S. man in foil at No. 11 in the world.
“We’ve won a lot of stuff together, and he’s proven that that system is going to be passed on and he’ll pass it on as well,” Imboden said after the Tokyo Olympic team medal, according to USA Fencing.
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