Irish fencers Gerek Meinhardt and Nick Itkin win bronze in team foil
Observer Sports Staff | Monday, August 2, 2021
Former Irish fencer Gerek Meinhardt and current Irish fencer Nick Itkin were both part of the U.S. squad that captured the bronze medal in the men’s team foil event at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday. This was the second straight bronze for Meinhardt and teammates Alexander Massialas and Race Imboden, all of whom competed in the team foil event in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. But for Itkin, a rising senior at Notre Dame, the Tokyo Games served as an Olympic debut.
The team began its day with a quarterfinal victory over a German team that included five-time Senior World Champion Peter Joppich and a 2008 Olympic gold medalist Benjamin Kleibrink. After falling to the Russian Olympic Committee in the semi-finals, Team USA rebounded against Japan to claim the bronze, just the second medal for the country in the team foil event since 1932.
Competing in his fourth Olympics, Meinhardt became the youngest-ever Olympian in fencing when he competed as a 17-year-old in Beijing in 2008. He also etched his name in the collegiate history books with the Irish, winning NCAA championships as a sophomore in 2010 and a graduate student in 2014. He was a four-time first team All-American with the Irish and became the first-ever collegiate fencer to reach No. 1 in the world rankings in 2014. Meinhardt graduated from Notre Dame with an MBA in 2015 and is married to, another former Irish fencer who became the first American woman to win gold in an individual foil event last Sunday.
Itkin is competing in his first Olympics and has been impressive in his first two collegiate campaigns, winning back-to-back NCAA individual foil championships in 2018 and 2019. He is the second Irish men’s fencer to win consecutive national championships in program history, joining Mike Sullivan who won in 1977 and 1978. In August 2019, he competed for the U.S. men’s foil team that won gold at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.