Aug. 12, 2016
By Joanne Norell
RIO de JANEIRO – University of Notre Dame graduate Gerek Meinhardt played the part of linchpin for the United States men’s foil team Friday, leading a 45-31 comeback victory against top-seeded Italy in the bronze-medal match to bring home the first medal for a U.S. men’s foil squad since the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.
After dropping his first bout to individual gold medalist Daniele Garozzo 6-4, Meinhardt returned to the piste against Andrea Baldini in the fifth of the match’s nine rounds with the U.S. trailing 20-17. With a target of 25 points, Meinhardt ripped off eight straight touches to give the his team a 25-20 lead it would never relinquish.
Indeed, Meinhardt out-scored his opponents 12-1 in his final two bouts as the U.S. continued to expand its lead. He defeated Giorgio Avola 5-1 in his last bout.
The team victory gave Meinhardt, who plans to retire from fencing to focus on his career following the conclusion of the Rio games, his first medal in three Olympic appearances. At his first appearance in Beijing in 2008, he became the youngest U.S. Olympic fencer of all time at the age of 17.
The American men’s foil squad entered the competition as the tournament’s second seed, having claimed three gold medals this season and finishing with a third-place result or better in five of six tournaments. Teammate and current No. 1-ranked fencer Alex Massialas took home the individual silver medal Sunday, the first U.S. man to win an individual silver since the 1932 games.
The U.S. women’s sabre team is up next, led by Mariel Zagunis. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and 2006 NCAA sabre champion will lead the U.S. against Poland in a quarterfinal match at 9 a.m. ET (MSNBC).
— ND —
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, and earned her master’s degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.