Fencing preview: U.S. trio looks to end medal drought

Fencing continues on Day 2 of the Olympics as the men take the piste in the individual foil competition. In this discipline, the fencer scores points with the tip of the blade. The target area of their opponent is limited to the torso (shoulders to groin, front to back). The target areas are covered in a metallic vest, known as a lam, so touches can register with the automated scoring machine.

This must-see competition will be memorable for just how deep the talent pool is. The United States boasts four of the Top 20 fencers including #1 ranked Alexander Massialas who won silver last year at the World Championships and is a candidate for gold in Rio. Joining him are teammates Miles Chamley-Watson and Gerek Meinhardt. The trio have all won medals at Worlds.

Chamley-Watson will be the first to tell you that ranks don’t hold much meaning.

“Ranking means zero. Like, nothing. Once you’re past the first day, it means nothing,” he said.

Ironically, the draws announced by the International Fencing Federation dictate Chamley-Watson and Massialas facing off in the Round of 16 should they both advance. Meinhardt wouldn’t face either until the semifinals should he advance.

Bringing home gold would be quite a feat for any of these men. The United States has gone 112 years without gold and has not won a medal of any color in the last 32 years.

Japan’s Yuki Ota will certainly provide a challenge for the trio. Ota will make his fourth Olympic appearance in Rio and is the reigning world champion after topping Massialas for gold at Worlds. Ota also earned silver in the individual competition in Beijing and in the team event in London.

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