In the bustling Southern Chinese city of Wuxi, over 7,000 miles away from Cambridge, Mass., senior co-captain Eli Dershwitz became the No.1-ranked men's saber fencer in the world.
Wuxi, nestled alongside the picturesque Lake Tai in Jiangsu Province, was this year’s host of the World Fencing Championships. Numerous world-class fencers who had made the trip to Rio de Janeiro two years ago for the 2016 Olympic Games—including Dershwitz himself—descended upon the 30,000-seat Wuxi Indoor Stadium for the most important global fencing competition in a non-Olympic year.
As the third-seeded competitor, Dershwitz commenced the tournament easily defeating Dmytro Pundyk (Ukraine), 15-4, before edging Yinghui Yan (China), 15-12, in the round of 32.
Dershwitz accomplished a challenging feat in the quarterfinal round, downing 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Aron Szilagyi of Hungary, 15-11. Following another nerve-filled match in the semifinals against South Korean Kim Junho in which the Sherborn, Mass., native required three straight points to prolong the match and then surpass his opponent, 15-14, Dershwitz guaranteed himself the 2018 Overall World Cup title by making the final two.
In the championship match, the Harvard senior dueled against another five-ring podium holder, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Junghwan Kim of South Korea. A tight match was decided in the final few points, when the South Korean pulled away to win 15-11 and earn the gold medal.
"To know that your name is going to be written down in the history books is amazing," Dershwitz said in an interview on gocrimson.com. "I lost a really close bout in the final to a great fencer, Kim—an Olympic Champion and World Champion now. And other people got bronze, great athletes, great fencers. It feels amazing to be on that podium with them."
Leaving Wuxi with the silver medal as part of a collection of three international gold medals and a bronze this year, Dershwitz propelled himself up the World Rankings to No. 1. The 22-year old is just the second American ever to ascend to the top of the world men's saber rankings, following in the footsteps of Brooklyn native Keeth Smart who accomplished the feat in 2003.
Following his return to the United States, Dershwitz will lead the Crimson for the second straight year as a co-captain. Junior Duncan Rheingans-Yoo was also selected as a men’s co-captain for the 2018-2019 season.
—Staff writer Henry Zhu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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