Aug. 22, 2004
ATHENS, Greece – Former Notre Dame fencer Jan Viviani competed in Sunday’s men’s epee team bouts at the Olympic Games in Athens, joining incoming freshman women’s sabre and gold medalist Mariel Zagunis as the second fencer with Notre Dame ties to compete in the 2004 Olymics. The U.S. men’s epee team finished sixth overall, following the men’s sabre and men’s foil squads (both fourth) in an historic showing that saw each squad post the best U.S. finishes in those respective weapons since the 1956 Olympic Games (there are no women’s team competitions in sabre or foil at the ’04 Olympics and the U.S. did not qualify for the women’s team epee events).
Jan Viviani – the only four-year epee All-American in Notre Dame history – made his Olympic debut in Sunday’s team match versus the Ukraine.
Viviani – the only four-year All-America epeeist in Notre Dame’s storied fencing history – was an alternate on the U.S. men’s epee roster but was inserted into Sunday’s fifth-place bout, after his three teammates had lost to eventual gold medalist France in the quarterfinals (45-32) and defeated China in the next round (45-36). Viviani split the 12 touches during his three bouts versus the Ukraine in the fifth-place matchup, posting a 2-0 win over Vitaly Osharov while losing one-touch decisions to Dmitriy Karuchenko (4-3) and Bogdan Nikishin (2-1). Former Air Force strandout Seth Kelsey (who defeated Notre Dame’s Michal Sobieraj in the 2003 NCAA final) matched Viviani in splitting his touches (15-15) versus the Ukraine while youngster Cody Mattern (12-24) rounded out the U.S. team, as the Ukraine posted a 45-33 victory. Princeton’s Soren Thompson, another of Viviani’s former college rivals, was the other regular member of the U.S. men’s epee team and competed in the earlier matches versus France and China.
Jan Viviani (back row, right) and his U.S. teammates (pictured with their coach) finished sixth for the best U.S. showing in the men’s epee team event since 1956.
In addition to the historic gold medal won by Zagunis and the bronze captured by her sabre teammate Sada Jacobson, the United States fencers have posted several other noteworthy results. The men’s sabre squad – comprised of Keeth Smart, Ivan Lee and Jason Rogers – upset third-seeded Hungary in the quarterfinals and was a point shy of reaching the gold-medal round before losing to France and ultimately finishing fourth (still the best U.S. finish in five decades). The men’s foil team of Jon Tiomkin, Jed Dupree and Dan Kellner also posted the best U.S. finish in that event since 1956, taking fourth. Thompson added a seventh-place finish in the men’s epee individual competition, again the best finish in that event since ’56. Check back to und.com in the upcoming days as we hope to have diary and/or Q&A offerings from both Viviani and Zagunis, plus an exclusive interview with proud mother and Oregon Fencing Alliance program director Cathy Zagunis (who was on campus this weekend for the Freshman Orientation proceedings … while her daughter still is thousands of miles away soaking up the Olympic experience).