Fencing Grand Prix: Foilists gather for Shanghai showdown

SHANGHAI (May 31) – The world’s top foilists are gearing up for the last Grand Prix of the season in Shanghai, where a good performance could see rising US star Lee Kiefer break into the world’s top three ahead of the Rio Olympics.

After spending most of the season watching the scrap for the No. 1 spot between Russia’s Inna Deriglazova and Arianna Errigo of Italy unfold ahead of her, the 21-year-old from Cleveland, Ohio, is poised to reach a career-high ranking of third in China this weekend.

For that to happen, the fourth-ranked Kiefer must hope that Elisa Di Francesca, the No. 3, fails to defend the 48 points she won by clinching last year’s title in Shanghai. Kiefer only has six points to defend.

After a disappointing start to the season – 33rd at the Cancun World Cup, Errigo has medalled at every major event this season, winning three of them. Deriglazova has picked up medals at all but three major events this season but is in peak form, having won the most recent World Cup event in Tauberbischofsheim.

All four fencers have one remaining event – their zonal championships - to pick up ranking points ahead of Rio 2016 but for qualified fencers from Africa and Asia, Shanghai represents their last opportunity to climbing the ranking list.

A fencer’s seeding in Rio is based on his or her official FIE ranking just before the Olympics.

On the men’s side, meanwhile, eight teams have qualified for the Olympic Games – Italy, the USA, France, Russia, China, Britain, Egypt and Brazil – and with countries having until June 6 to name their athletes, some fencers will be competing in Shanghai for their team place.

The Americans will pose the biggest threat in Shanghai, with Alexander Massialas, Gerek Meinhardt and Race Imboden occupying three of the top four places in the world rankings. Only Japan’s World No. 2, Yuki Ota, has been able to arrest US dominance of this discipline so far this year.

Two British fencers out to challenge the Americans will be James-Andrew Davis and Richard Kruse, ranked fifth and sixth, respectively. Both have won events this season.

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