PANAMA CITY, Panama (June 26) – Venezuela and the United States fenced their way to team gold at the Pan American Championships in Panama City on Friday.
The Venezuelans, anchored by London individual Olympic champion Ruben Limardo Gascon, beat Cuba 42-36 in the final of the men’s epee event. The other victorious team members were Kelvin Canas, Silvio Fernandez and Limardo’s brother Francisco.
Colombia defeated Brazil 45-30 to win the bronze medal match.
The women’s team sabre final saw the United States beat Mexico 45-41, securing a second gold medal of the championships for individual event winner Ibtihaj Muhammad. The Americans also included Monica Askamit, Dagmara Wozniak and two-time Olympic champion Mariel Zagunis.
The bronze medal went to Canada, which beat Venezuela 45-42 in the third-place playoff.
The Canadians claimed their first gold medal of the championships on Friday with a nail-biting 45-44 defeat of the United States in the women’s team epee.
Canada’s team of Malinka Hoppe Montanaro, Vanessa Lacas-Warrick, Leonora MacKinnon and Brittany Mark-Larkin built up an early lead and held off an American comeback to seal the narrow victory.
Brazil thrashed Puerto Rico 45-16 for the bronze medal.
The United States went one better in the men’s team foil, however, with Race Imboden, Alexander Massialas, Gerek Meinhardt and David Willette securing a 45-38 victory over Brazil for the gold medal.
The bronze went to Canada, which defeated Mexico by the same score in the third place match.
Brazil’s Renzo Agresta captured the men’s sabre title on Thursday, finding form just ahead of his home Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Agresta, the world No. 17, overcame Andrew Mackiewicz of the United States by a score of 15-5 in the final in Panama City, while the bronze medal was won by Jose Quintero of Venezuela and Eli Dershwitz of the United States.
America’s Lee Kiefer maintained her fine run of form with victory in the women’s foil.
Kiefer finished in the top three in her previous three competitions and beat her teammate Nicole Ross 15-7 to make it four. Canadians Kelleigh Ryan and Alanna Goldie won the bronze.
On Wednesday, Muhammad was crowned Pan American champion in women’s sabre after her opponent in the final, Zagunis, withdrew through injury.
Zagunis, the world No. 2, was leading 8-2 when she pulled out of the fight. For Muhammad, the world No. 10, it was a first title of the season.
The bronze medals were won by Paola Pliego of Mexico and María Belén Pérez Maurice from Argentina.
The men’s epee saw a surprise victory by Yunior Reytor Venet, the world No. 178 from Cuba.
Venet defeated America’s Jason Pryor, the world No. 38, in a thrilling final by a score of 15-14 for easily his best-ever result.
The losing semifinalists, and bronze medallists, were Canada’s Maxime Brinck-Croteau and Reynier Henriquez Ortiz of Cuba.
On Tuesday, the first day of the championships, Alexander Massialas and Kelley Hurley brought the Americans two gold medals.
Massialas, the world No. 1, defeated 70th-ranked Daniel Gomez of Mexico 15-6 in the men’s foil final to claim his first individual Pan American title.
In the women’s epee, Hurley, the world No. 23, won her second individual gold with a 15-10 final win against Maria Martinez of Venezuela, the world No. 82.
The Pan American Championships are held at the Convention Center Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, Hotel El Panamá from June 20-26.
More than 286 fencers from 32 countries are competing for medals in six individual disciplines: men’s and women’s épée, foil and sabre, plus the respective team events.
The championships, along with the European event running concurrently in Torun, Poland, are the last major competition on the FIE calendar ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this August.
All photos by Devin Manky here.