February 23, 2016
Last weekend, the US Men’s Saber Team won another gold medal at the season’s last fencing World Cup in Warsaw, Poland. As a result, the team ends the season as the world’s number 1 for the first time in US history. Under the leadership of US National Men’s Saber Coach Zoran Tulum, the fencers had an outstanding season and claimed two golds and one silver medal out of four World Cups. They also won the Pan-American Championships and placed 5th at last year’s World Championships.
While there will be no team event for men’s saber at the Rio Olympics due to a rotating schedule for fencing disciplines, team USA is now the top seed at the World Team Championships which will be held as part of the Olympic test events in Rio de Janeiro during April 25-27, 2016. The team of Daryl Homer (Bronx, N.Y.), Eli Dershwitz (Sherborn, Mass.), Jeff Spear (Wynantskill, N.Y.), and Peter Souders (Silver Spring, Md.) has its eyes on the World Championship Title, which would be another historic first.
“Going into World Championships as the number one, we have a very realistic chance to medal. If we fence well and the team holds together like they did during the season, we have a true chance to become World Champions for the first time in US history”, says national team coach Zoran Tulum.
At the Olympic Games in Rio, men’s saber fencers will only compete individually. This means that a maximum of two fencers per country can qualify. Daryl Homer, ranked number 7 in the world, is a returning Olympian who has secured his spot on the 2016 US Olympic Team. Eli Dershwitz, currently ranked 13th in the world, has to finalize his qualification at the season’s last qualifying event in Seoul, Korea this March. “Eli is number 11 on the Olympic qualifying list and it is almost impossible for him to miss his qualification at this point”, comments Tulum.
Zoran Tulum is also Dershwitz’ personal coach who has been working with him since Dershwitz started fencing 11 years ago. “Eli’s world ranking is remarkable. Born in 1995, he is the youngest fencer among the world’s top 25.” A native of Sherborn, Mass., Dershwitz is also the reigning U19 World Champion and was one of the top finishers of last season’s NCAA championships. The Harvard student is currently taking a one-year break from school to train for the Olympics and will return to university after Rio.
Tulum is an experienced Olympic Coach. During the 1990-ies, he held the position of US National Coach for a different team, men’s foil. During the early years of internationally successful US fencing teams, he played a crucial role in advancing American foil fencers to international recognition and lead them to the very first World Cup medals. Today, the US Men’s Foil Team is ranked number 1 in the world and a strong contender for gold in Rio.
When Tulum became national coach again in 2014, this time for the men’s saber team, his goal was clear. “We had a young team but I believed that we could compete with the world’s best nations if our fencers were able to support each other and to believe in their combined strength. When we won our first World Cup gold early in the season, I knew that my goal of winning a world championship medal was realistic. That’s what we’ve been working for during the last two years, and I believe that we are ready to defend our number-one world ranking in Rio.”