Men’s and Women’s Epee
Jason Pryor, the sole American representive in the individual competition, earns a bye in the Round of 64 and will face Benjamin Steffen of Switzerland in the Round of 32. Pryor’s goal in Rio is to leave it all on the piste and have his ‘greatest fencing day.’ France’s Gauthier Grumier, who is ranked number one, is widely seen as the favorite to win after winning several competitions during the 2015-2016 season and earning silver at Worlds in 2015.
Sisters Courtney and Kelley Hurley both received first round byes and will face Yana Shemyakina of the Ukraine and Shin A Lam of Korea respectively. They won a bronze medal in the team competition in London. Fellow American Kat Holmes, 23, the youngest of the trio, has a first round bye and will face Estonia’s Erika Kirpu in the Round of 32. Holmes, an undergraduate at Princeton, has not placed above 27th at Worlds.
Men’s and Women’s Foil
Team USA’s Miles Chamley-Watson, Gerek Meinhardt and Alexander Massialas all received first round byes. Chamley-Watson will face Artur Akhmatkhuzin of Russia in the Round of 32 while Massialas and Meinhardt will have to wait until the day of competition to find out their opponents. Massialas, the number one ranked foil fencer in the world, is widely seen as the favorite to win gold. Should Massialas and Chamley-Watson advance to the Round of 16, they may face each other. The reigning world champion, Japan’s Ota Yuki, also received a first round bye in his fourth Olympic appearance and will certainly provide a challenge to the U.S. trio.
For the women, Lee Keifer and Nzingha Prescod both received first round byes and will face Mona Shaito of Lebanon and Michel Nataly of Mexico respectively. Keifer, 22, and Prescod, 23, will attempt to break Italy’s dominance in the event. Decorated Italian foil fencer Valentina Vezzali retired last year however from her shadows emerged Arianna Errigo and Elisa Di Francisca, the defending champion, who will make her second Olympic appearance.
Men’s and Women’s Sabre
Ibtihaj Muhammad will automatically advance to the Round of the 32 where she will face Olena Kravatska of the Ukraine after receiving a first round bye. Muhammad will make history when she sets foot on the piste as the first Olympian to compete wearing a hijab. Joining her will be fellow Team USA fencers Mariel Zagunis, who will look to shake off her disappointing showing in London, and Dagmara Wozniak.
On the men’s side, Team USA’s Daryl Homer will face Kazakhstan’s Illya Mokretcov in the Round of 64. Homer will look to improve on his sixth place finish at the London Games. He will be joined by Eli Dershwitz who faces Seppe van Holsbeke of Belgium.
More information about the draws can be found on the International Fencing Federation’s website. Competition starts Saturday August 6 beginning with the women’s individual epee at 8am ET.