LAUSANNE (June 14) – When it comes to hitting form at the right time, fencers in Europe and the Americas know it’s now or never.
Next week these continents will hold their respective zonal championships, the last competitions on the International Fencing Federation (FIE) calendar before the Rio Olympics.
PAN AMERICAN FENCING CHAMPIONSHIPS, Panama City, Panama.
The Pan American Championships will be held at the Convention Center Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, Hotel El Panamá from June 20-26.
More than 286 fencers from 32 countries will compete for medals in six individual disciplines: men’s and women’s épée, foil and sabre, plus the respective team events.
Ruben Limardo (VEN) will bid to become the second fencer to successfully defend his title in men's individual épée, after Soren Thompson (USA) who won in 2011 and 2012.
Limardo also won the title in 2009 and shares the record for most gold medals (two) in this event with Silvio Fernandez (VEN) and Thompson. Fernandez will also compete in Panama.
Limardo became only the second Venezuelan gold medallist in Olympic history as he won men's individual épée in London in 2012, after boxer Francisco Rodriguez in 1968 (light flyweight).
The last three editions of this event were won by three different Venezuelan fencers: Ruben Limardo in 2015, Francisco Limardo (VEN) in 2014 and Fernandez in 2013.
Venezuelan and American fencers have won eight of the 10 gold medals in men's individual épée. Igor Tikhomirov (CAN, 2006) and Guillermo Madrigal (CUB, 2010) were the only other athletes to claim the title.
Race Imboden (USA, 2011, 2012 and 2015) and Gerek Meinhardt (USA, 2013 and 2014) have won the last five editions of men's individual foil.
Imboden and Meinhardt have each won a record three gold medals in this event, as Meinhardt also won the title in 2007.
Meinhardt's total of eight medals in men's individual foil (G3-S2-B3) are three more than any other athlete.
The last fencer apart from Imboden or Meinhardt to win this title was Antonio Leal (VEN) in 2010.
Eli Dershwitz (USA) won men's individual sabre in 2014 and 2015.
He can now surpass Keeth Smart (USA) for most gold medals in this event (both on two) and can become the first fencer to win this event three times in a row. Smart won it in 2007 and 2008.
Renzo Agresta (BRA) won this event in 2013 and hopes to join Dershwitz and Smart on two gold medals.
Agresta is one of two Brazilians to have won a gold medal at the Pan American Championships, alongside Nathalie Moellhausen (BRA) who won gold in women's individual épée last year.
Joseph Polossifakis (CAN, 2012) and Daryl Homer (USA, 2011) can also win their second gold medal.
The last three editions of men's team épée were won by three different teams: United States in 2015, Cuba in 2014 and Venezuela in 2013.
Venezuela lead the team épée medal table, ahead of Canada (2), Cuba (2) and United States (2).
United States have won the last eight editions of men's team foil.
The only two other editions were won by Canada (2006 and 2007).
United States have won all 10 editions of men's team sabre.
Canada finished second on nine occasions, with Venezuela snatching the only other silver medal (2009).
Last year Nathalie Moellhausen (BRA) ended a four-edition winning streak by fencers from the United States in women's individual épée.
Moellhausen can become the second athlete to win this event at consecutive Pan American Championships, after Courtney Hurley (USA, 2013 and 2014).
Courtney Hurley also won women's individual épée in 2009. She is the only fencer with multiple gold medals in this event.
Courtney's sister Kelley Hurley (USA) won this event in 2011.
Fencers from the United States have won all 10 gold medals in women's individual foil.
Lee Kiefer (USA) has won a record six gold medals, all since 2010.
Kiefer can become the first fencer to win seven gold medals in a single individual event (both men and women) at the Pan American Championships. Coming into the tournament she shares the record of six with Mariel Zagunis (USA) who has won six titles in women's individual sabre.
The last athlete to win this event before Kiefer's reign was Nzingha Prescod (USA) in 2009.
Mariel Zagunis (USA) has won women's individual sabre a record six times.
Zagunis can become the first fencer to win seven gold medals in a single individual event (both men and women) at the Pan American Championships. Coming into the tournament she shares the record of six with Lee Kiefer (USA) who has won six titles in women's individual foil.
Zagunis won the title from 2009-2013 and again in 2015. The only athlete to break her winning streak in this span was Maria Perez Maurice (ARG) in 2014.
United States have won the last five editions of women's team épée.
The last other team to win this event was Cuba in 2010.
United States have won each of the last nine editions of women's team foil
Venezuela (2006) is the only other team to ever have won this event
Canada have collected eight silver medals in women's team foil.
United States have won all 10 previous editions of women's team sabre.
Venezuela claimed the silver medal on four occasions and Canada and Mexico have each taken home thee silver medals.