(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Half of Team USA’s entrants into the first day of the Cadet World Championships ended the competition with medals on Friday as three 16-yearold athletes reached the podium and a fourth earned a top-eight result at the tournament for the world’s best U17 athletes.
Two-time Cadet World Team member Sylvie Binder (Armonk, N.Y.) earned Team USA’s first women’s foil title since London Olympian Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) took gold in 2010.
While Binder ended her first Cadet Worlds in 2015 with a bronze medal win, Deschner missed the podium by one bout, finishing in the top eight.
This year, each won two medals on the Cadet European Cup Circuit where Binder took gold in Tauberbischofsheim in the fall with Deschner taking silver.
When the ranking was done after the pool rounds, the two would be on opposite sides of the table where Binder was seeded second and Deschner was in fourth after both athletes ended the round with 6-0 records.
“All day long, we had made some jokes about how our lineup was perfect, and how we wouldn't meet until the finals,” Binder said.
That plan was on track in the early rounds after both athletes earned byes into the table of 64 where Binder defeated Athina Gonzalez Ciavarella (ARG), 15-10, and Deschner won her bout against Gana Nawar (EGY), 15-8.
In the 32, Deschner kept her medal hopes alive when she held off Alice Recher (FRA), 15-14, and Binder followed with a 15-8 win over Kari Weiner (GER).
Binder was dominant in her table of 16 bout, shutting out 2016 Cadet European Team Champion Alexandra Sunduchkova (RUS), 10-0, in the first period and closing the win at 15-3. Although Deschner led Anna Taranenko (UKR) by three at 9-6 early in the second period, the Ukrainian remained determined and tied the score at 11 before Deschner answered by scoring four of the next six touches to end the bout at 15-13.
After three DE bouts, the only person who stood between Deschner and a medal would be Leonie Ebert – the 2015 Cadet World Champion. Not only was Ebert the best U17 fencer in the world last year, but she won bronze in the junior event as well and represented Germany at the Senior World Championships in 2015.
Binder’s quarter-final win lacked the drama of Deschner’s as she controlled her bout against Amita Berthier (SIN) from the start, ending the first period at 12-5 and securing her second Cadet World medal with a 15-6 victory.
Deschner’s semifinal would be first as she took on Sera Azuma (JPN). Although Azuma was a first-time Cadet World Team member who only fenced on the circuit once this season, she took gold in her sole Cadet European Cup appearance in Moedling, Austria and had upset both the 2015 Cadet World silver medalist and the No. 1 seed in this year’s event on her road to the semis.
Although Deschner held a 13-7 lead at the first break, Azuma went on a tear in the second, scoring eight straight to steal the win, 15-13.
Binder fenced Lara Bertola (ITA) in the next semi, leading the bout, 5-2, after the first break and 10-8 after the second. Bertola regrouped to tie the bout at 11 before closed out the bout at 15-13.
In the gold medal final, Binder was well aware of Azuma’s propensity for late comebacks as she held just a one-touch lead (11-10) going into the third period.
“Azuma is a solid athlete and fencer. Her stamina got her some major comebacks, so going into the third period, I knew that she wasn't about to let up any easy touches,” Binder said. “I think I kept my momentum up and was driven by the reality that this was it for me, that this was my last Cadet Worlds, and that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was not going to lose focus from my fencing.”
It was that focus that kept Binder on track as she won the bout, 15-12, to become the first U.S. fencer to win gold in women’s foil at the Cadet Worlds in six years.
Binder joins an elite list of U.S. women to hold the Cadet World titles in women’s foil as the fifth member of a club that includes Kiefer, 2012 Olympian Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 2008 Olympic team silver medalist Emily Cross (New York City, N.Y.) and 2000 Olympian Iris Zimmermann (Rochester, N.Y.)
With Deschner winning bronze, this also marks the first time Team USA has had two fencers on the women’s foil podium at a Cadet Worlds since Prescod and Kiefer won gold and silver in 2009.
“Coming out of last year's competition, I felt pretty satisfied with my bronze result. But as time has passed and I've fenced more international competitions this season, my goals changed and I realized that a repeat medaling was something that I really wanted and was attainable,” Binder said. “It felt great to have Stefani and me together on the podium. Our plan to meet in the finals didn't come to full fruition, but I'm so proud of the way we fenced and managed to pull out a double medaling for the U.S.”
Binder has three more opportunities for medals in the coming week, returning to the strip first on Monday for the cadet mixed team competition. On Tuesday, she will compete in the individual event at the Junior Worlds for the first time and will follow with the team competition on Friday where the U.S. Women’s Foil Team enters the event as the reigning silver medalists.
“I have a pretty long week ahead of me and I'm really pumped to fence cadet mixed team on Monday. The medical staff, Raluca [Duma] and Gerard [Bogin], are so great though. I plan on going to them and getting their aid with any sort of soreness or fatigue that I may have,” Binder said. “As far as fencing goes, I'm excited to fence my first Junior Worlds. I have no expectations aside from fencing my best and maintaining the highest level of intensity I can perform at.”
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