Fencing: Men's Individual Sabre, USA
All seems to be going according to plan for Eli Dershwitz. The Sherborn, Mass. native came into his freshman year at Harvard in 2014 already knowing he would take the next season off to compete for a spot on the USA Olympic fencing team.
The decision paid off. In March 2016 Dershwitz won the Seoul Grand Prix in South Korea, securing his opportunity to represent the United States in individual men’s sabre in Rio de Janeiro in August. The qualification placed Dershwitz on the list of seven fencers in the Crimson’s history to compete for America on the Olympic stage.
Dershwitz’s intention to take a gap year after his freshman campaign in Cambridge came as no surprise to either his coaches or his teammates, as he ranked third in USA Fencing’s national rolling points standings for senior men’s sabre at the end of the 2014-2015 season. However, the knowledge that he would not be on the team the following year did not hold Dershwitz back from becoming one of the best fencers on the NCAA circuit in his first year on the team. He concluded the season with an 84-14 overall record while tallying wins in the Tradition Tournament at Sacred Heart, St John’s Invitational, and the Ivy League Round Robin. His contributions ultimately helped the Crimson take home the Ivy League title.
In his first time competing at the NCAA Championships in 2015, Dershwitz finished with a 22-2 overall record and a +60 touch differential, a feat which awarded him third place overall.
The competition in Rio will be much different than fellow NCAA athletes, but the change is something Dershwitz is accustomed to. His laundry list of success on the international circuit transcends borders and continents, as he has won gold medals in Uzbekistan, Turkey, Canada, Costa Rica, and Poland in addition to his Grand Prix championship in South Korea. He also took home bronze and silver medals at junior world championships in 2013 and 2013, respectively.
As of July 1, Dershwitz ranked at the top of the rolling point standings for Team USA in the senior men’s sabre division, amassing 8,230 points. This accomplishment places him more than 750 points ahead of second place teammate Daryl Homer.
Dershwitz will get his first taste of the Olympic stage on Wednesday when he faces off against Seppe Van Holsbeke of Belgium in the opening round of individual men’s sabre competition.
–Staff writer Ariel Smolik-Valles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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