LONDON - The U.S. Men’s Saber Team came to the Olympic Games with the hopes of returning to the medal rounds after a silver medal win in Beijing, but the team’s medal dreams disappeared after a loss to Russia – the two-time reigning World Champions – in the quarterfinals.
Coming into the day’s opener against Russia, Team USA had posted wins against two of Russia’s three fencers in the individual event on July 29 when Daryl Homer bested world #2 Alexey Yakimenko and Tim Morehousen defeated 2010 Senior World medalist Veniamin Reshetnikov on their way to the top-eight results. In the team event, however, Russia dominated the first six bouts to build a 30-17 lead.
Columbia alum James Williams '07CC, who won silver with Morehouse in Beijing, stopped the downward score slide with a 5-5 bout split with Reshetnikov and Morehouse tied the eighth bout, 5-5, against Nikolay Kovalev.
Homer outscored Yakimenko, 6-5, as the anchor, but Team USA still lost the match, 45-33.
Williams said the unique nature of the Games means that any number of teams could win gold.
“The Olympics is a very special competition. It’s just a one-day event and can be a little bit flukey one way or the other. I wish we had won, but this is sport,” he said.
After the loss, the team had half an hour to regroup for the 5th – 8th place tables and a match against China.
With Team USA down by seven points after the third bout against China [15-8], Williams brought outscored Man Zhong, 8-5, to bring the score to 20-16, but China held on to win four of the next five bouts to win the match, 45-28.
The loss put the Americans into the 7th – 8th place match against Belarus – the 2011 Senior World silver medalists who were upset by Italy in the quarter-finals.
Prior to the start of the match, Columbia alum Jeff Spear '10CC was substituted in for Williams. The sub-in officially made Spear, who did not compete in the team event, an Olympian.
The Belarussian squad outscored Team USA in seven of the nine bouts to win the match, 45-35.
“Fencing is my favorite thing in the world and to do it on our biggest stage and represent our country? I’m very proud of that,” Spear said. “I wish I could have done better. I know I could have done better, but I’ll be back.”
Columbia alum Erison Hurtault '07CC, the flag bearer for Dominica, will begin his Olympic Games on Saturday, August 4 at 5:35 a.m. Eastern time. Hurtault will run in the seventh and final heat of the first round of the Men's 400m.
Fencing reporting courtesy of USFencing.com