“Literally anything can happen.”
These are the words of the tenth ranked sabre fencer Daryl Homer who will compete in the men’s sabre event, which has proven to be anything but predictable.
Team USA’s top-ranked fencer will return for his second Olympic Games in search of a medal.
Homer finished sixth in the event in his Olympic debut in London and won silver at the World Championships in 2015.
The favorite to win gold is Aleksei Yakimenko of Russia. He’s ranked number one and is the reigning world champion. Hungary’s Aron Szilagyi is another top five fencer who reached the quarterfinals at Worlds and is expected to contend for a medal.
Fellow U.S. fencer Eli Dershwitz will join Homer on the piste. The 20-year-old Harvard undergraduate is ranked 12th in the world.
The women will also be on the piste to determine the foil medalists. For the first time since 1992, Italy’s Valentina Vezzali will not compete in the foil event following her retirement in 2015.
From Vezzali’s shadows however emerges top fencers Arianna Errigo and Elisa Di Francisca, the defending gold medalist. Russia’s Aida Shanayeva is also expected to contend for a medal. She has been a top-eight fencer the past two years.
U.S. fencer Lee Kiefer, who finished fifth at Worlds last year, is viewed as an outside medal contender. She’ll be joined by teammate Nzingha Prescod who tied with Errigo for third at Worlds last year. Both women will look to become Team USA’s first medal winners in the women’s foil.