MOSCOW - Columbia fencing alumnae Nzingha Prescod '15CC won a bronze medal in the women's foil a the Senior World Championships. At 22-years-old, Prescod was the youngest fencer in the women’s top four. She is also the first African American woman to medal at Senior Worlds.
A former Junior and Cadet World Champion, Prescod qualified for her first Senior World Team as a 16-year-old in 2009 and became the first U.S. woman to win a women’s foil Grand Prix title in 2013, but she came into the Senior Worlds with a string of six straight top-32 finishes.
After a 15-8 win over Anastasiya Moskovska (UKR) and a 15-9 victory against Saskia Lo Van Erven Garcia (COL), Prescod found herself fencing reigning Senior World and Olympic Champion Elisa Di Francisca (ITA) in the table of 16.
"Going into the bout, I’ve fenced her a few times, but we’ve never really had a close bout," said Prescod. "The closest I think we have has been me scoring maybe 10 or 11. And I was just thinking about the guys and they almost always have upsets and we never do and I think that’s because nobody ever thinks they could beat these people and I was like ‘You know what? I can do it if I actually put everything into it.’ So I decided that I could win that bout. I just decided that this was going to be an upset and I was really disciplined and smart and kept doing what was working and sticking to that.”
Tied at 10 late in the third period, Di Francisca fought to take a 14-11 lead, but Prescod fought back to be awarded three touches to tie the bout, including one on a red card. During the final exchange, Di Francisca was hit with another red card for covering and Prescod won the bout, 15-14.
"I just feel like fencing takes so much effort. Every bout, every touch is so much effort. So it’s nice that all your work can come together into a medal,” Prescod said. “’Some days you’ll have your really good touches and have great energy, but you still won’t win the bout. But you’ll have felt like you fenced well. Today I feel like I had really good touches and that I had really good focus and that I was just taking it one touch at a time.”
Prescod took another 15-14 nail biter against Ysaora Thibus (FRA) in the quarter-finals to guarantee a medal.
In the semifinals, Prescod lost her bout to Aida Shanaeva (RUS), 15-7.
"It is great to see Nzingha back on top," said Columbia head coach Michael Aufrichtig. "Watching her work so hard last year to rehabilitate her body after her surgery shows hard work and dedication does pay off. She makes all of Columbia proud!"