US fencing fortunes raise and fall in ExCeL Olympic test event
Sunday, 27 November 2011
November 27 - The fortunes of the United States fencing team dipped dramatically tonight in the Olympic test event at the ExCeL as Gerek Meinhardt (pictured right) and Miles Chamley-Watson (left), gold and silver medallists respectively in Saturday's individual events, both had to withdraw from the foil team event after suffering hamstring injuries.
During the gold medal bout of the individual event on Saturday between Meinhardt and Chamley-Watson, the latter injured his hamstring and entered the team event as the alternate with Meinhardt, Alexander Massialas and Race Imboden scheduled to start the opening match against France.
During the first bout between Meinhardt and Brice Guyart, the Athens 2004 Olympic champion whom Meinhardt defeated in the table of 32 on Saturday, Meinhardt was up 4-2 when he pulled his hamstring.
Following a 10-minute medical timeout, Meinhardt was unable to move on the strip and Guyart (pictured below left) took the bout, 5-4.
With Meinhardt injured, Chamley-Watson was substituted into the match and Massialas and Imboden worked to keep the team in the hunt, but France won the bout, 43-38.
After the match, the team elected to withdraw from the consolation rounds in order to prevent further injuries.
The event brought together six of the top teams in the world, plus two squads from the host nation, to an event to test technical officials, results, timing, processes and the field of play.
The tournament is part of the London Prepares Series in which a test event is held for each sport on the Olympic programme.
"It was great competing in the venue that the Olympics will be held at next year," said Meinhardt who finished tenth at the Beijing Games and won bronze at the 2010 Senior World Championships.
"It was really amazing motivation seeing the facilities and getting familiar with some of the procedures that will take place if I qualify for the Games."
Competing against Great Britain's top fencer, Massialas lost his individual bout to Richard Kruse, 15-10, and finished eleventh overall.
Meinhardt met Kruse in the quarters and avenged his teammate's loss with a 15-10 victory to set up a semi-final against Imboden who defeated Alexey Cheremisinov (RUS), 15-9.
Chamley-Watson qualified for the other semi-final after a 15-9 win over Russia's Dmitri Regine, 15-11.
In the semi-finals, Imboden took an early 5-0 over his teammate, but Meinhardt came back to win the bout, 15-13.
"It's always tough fencing teammates since we travel and spend so much time together on these trips, and Race has been getting great results and fencing really well lately," Meinhardt said.
"I wasn't quite ready or intense enough starting the match and got down, 5-0, but was thankfully able to stay in it and pull ahead for the win."
Chamley-Watson also won his semi-final bout over Tommaso Lari (pictured below left) (ITA), 15-10.
Fencing for gold, Meinhardt (pictured right) controlled the final medal bout against Chamley-Watson (left), to win the bout, 15-5.
"I was really happy about my result today mainly because my body felt really good and I felt like I was able to be very confident in my knee," said Meinhardt who underwent knee surgery earlier this year and was forced to take four months off from competition.
"It has been a long road to recovery for me since my last surgery had me sitting out for so long.
"I've been feeling stronger every week and hopefully will continue to get my feeling for the fencing game back as time goes on."
Meinhardt said he was impressed with the Olympic venue and looks forward to the opportunity to compete in his second Olympic Games next year.
"The venue was great," he said.
"From what I understand, the set up will be a little different at the actual Games because it will be in a larger hall, but even what they have for the test event is really well laid out and friendly for spectators.
"I hope I am able to qualify for the Games next year and see the final venue layout which I'm sure will be nothing short of spectacular."