Story by Brandon Pope | BSU at the Games
With just more than 100 days until the 2012 London Games, Olympic berths were decided for USA Fencing in Men’s Foil and Women’s Epee.
Qualifications began in March and concluded Saturday at the Nationals in Virginia Beach, Va. The top three athletes on the USA Fencing National Point Rankings advanced to the London Olympic Games where they will compete in both individual and team events.
In Men’s Foil, Miles Chamley-Watson emerged victorious after starting the day seeded fourth and facing adversity.
Chamley-Watson advanced to the quarterfinals knowing he would have to finish no less than seventh to qualify.
His Olympic journey seemed in danger after losing to Jerry Chang, 15-9. The loss could have resulted between a fifth- and eighth-place overall finish, but Chamley-Watson was the highest-seeded athlete to lose in the quarterfinals.
As a result, he placed fifth to earn a berth on the Olympic Team.
“Petrified,” Chamley-Watson said about the situation. “The fact that I could leave here today and come away with nothing and not even be going at all? That would be awful.
“You pay so much attention to the numbers all day—where you stand versus everybody else. You like, subconsciously, do. You really try not to, but you keep thinking about it all day. Somehow I managed to squeak by.”
At the end of the day, Gerek Meinhardt joined Chamley-Watson to clinch his second straight Olympic nomination. He will be the replacement athlete after finishing fourth overall.
Alexander Massialas and Race Imboden finished first and second, respectively, to qualify for their first Olympic Games.
With the team decided, the foursome is focusing on its next goal—winning both individual and team medals in London. Imbolden, the 18 year-old first-place finisher, believes his group will be legitimate contenders in London.
“We’ve got an excellent chance at a medal,” Imboden said. “I think we’re a young, strong team. Everybody knows that we’re competitors. I just think that, on a day like that, it’s anybody’s day and we’ve just got to make sure it’s our day.”
The Women’s Epee National Team also solidified its roster. Two sisters—Courtney and Kelly Hurley—will be teammates for the 2012 campaign. Courtney claimed the top spot in the final standings, but Kelly squeaked her way into fourth place where she will serve as the team’s replacement athlete.
Maya Lawrence and Susie Scanlan rounded out the top three spots.
“I think we’ve grown a lot as a team the past four years,” Lawrence said. “It started off rocky, but now I think we’re in a good spot. When we’re fencing together, we’ve started figuring out how to communicate with each other, what the other people need. We give each other confidence when we’re fencing. Hopefully, we can go into London ranked pretty high and try to do something there too.”
Brandon Pope is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering fencing, volleyball and basketball for BSU at the Games. Follow Brandon and the BSU team at @bpopeizdope, @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.
Information also provided by US Fencing Marketing & Communications, www.usfencing.org.