Credit: Kyle Terada/US Presswire
After seven days of disappointment, the women of the U.S. epee team brought home a bronze medal, the first for the Americans at the 2012 Olympic Games.
The No. 4 seed U.S. women lost to Korea in the semifinals, 45-36, setting up a bronze medal date with Russia, who fell to China in overtime, 20-19.
Courtney Hurley was the most consistent member in the semis, posting a 15-15 showing.
She also scored the last touch in what proved to be an epic third place bout.
With the score knotted at 30-30, Hurley stepped to the piste against Russia's Anna Sivkova. After a simultaneous touch, the two engaged, both missing their target. Each continued to attack, with Hurley landing the point of her epee on Sivkova while the Russian's attack failed to land. She turned around and was immediately embraced by her three teammates and coach Ro Sobalvarro.
Said Hurley, "I've been in that situation hundreds of times. I knew it was going to end in priority. Two ahead, two down, it doesn't matter. I knew it was going to end in priority. For that moment, I knew it was going to happen...There were tactics involved. Every time she attacked, she hit me - every time she controlled it. And every time I attacked her, I got her, so I knew I had to attack and decided to do it right away instead of waiting. So I just did it right off the en garde line."
The U.S. was previously 0-for-5 in medal clinching bouts at the London Games, with losses by both Mariel Zagunis & Seth Kelsey in the semifinal and bronze medal match of their respective events, and the women's epee team's loss in the semis.
The U.S. beat No. 5 Italy in the quarterfinal, 45-35, to advance into the semifinal stage. Only 8 teams began the competition.
Led by Maya Lawrence - who went a combined 15-11 in her three bouts - and Courtney - who posted a solid 17-12 mark - the U.S. knocked out the Italian team that returned all four fencers from their bronze medal squad at the 2011 World Championships.
"It's so amazing," said Lawrence after. "No one even expected us to make it to the top four and to get the bronze is so amazing. I can't even describe it. All the hard work we've done and finally coming together as a team? It's amazing."
Susie Scanlan and Kelley Hurley rounded out the balanced U.S. roster that failed to advance a fencer past the Round of 16 in the individual event.
The latter was ecstatic to not just win a medal, but do so with her sister. "Let me tell you, I did not think a medal was going to happen," said the elder Hurley. "I was so happy to qualify with my sister and people were like 'what if you get a medal?' and I was like 'I'd be so happy, I'd just quit.' And here it just happened. I didn't even see her last touch because I had my eyes closed and I felt like I was going to throw up."
Korea - the team that knocked out the U.S. and advanced to the gold medal match - was consistent across the board in their quarterfinal bout against No. 1 seed and heavy favorite Romania. Shin A Lam, the fencer who was involved in the controversy that made headlines at Monday's individual event, won both of her bouts in the team competition, 4-3, 6-4, before swapping out for the alternate fencer.
On Friday the men's sabre team won Korea's first ever gold medal in a team event. With five total medals through Day 8, the Korean contingent trails just Italy - who has six total - on the table.