March 21, 2012
QUEENS, N.Y. - After months of international and domestic competition, senior Daryl Homer and St. John's alumnus Dagmara Wozniak have officially qualified for Team USA's saber squads at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
On Saturday, March 17, Homer made his first top-eight finish at the Moscow World Cup -- the final Olympic qualifier event of the international season. His seventh place finish solidified his status as the No. 1 saber fencer in the United States and as one of the top 16 athletes at his weapon in the world.
The next day, Homer and his three U.S. saber squadmates bagged bronze in the Moscow World Cup team event. It was the first medal U.S. men's saber has won in a World Cup competition since 2005 and, at 21-years-old, Homer is the youngest U.S. men's saber fencer to ever win a World Cup medal. The third place finish also guaranteed Team USA a spot in the men's saber team event at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
St. John's fencing head coach Yury Gelman, who also coaches the U.S. men's saber squad, was at the Moscow World Cup to lead Team USA to their bronze medal. Gelman will lead the men's saber squad in London as well.
Two teammates and one replacement athlete will join Homer in London. Tim Morehouse and James Williams -- members of the 2008 Olympics silver medal-winning team -- currently occupy the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively. The U.S. men's saber team will be finalized after the Division I National Championships in Virginia Beach, Va. on April 15.
Because women's saber is not a team event at the London Olympic Games, each nation can only qualify a maximum of two women's saber athletes. Wozniak secured the second and final women's saber spot on this weekend after months of battling two other candidates. There was no doubt Mariel Zagunis, a two-time Olympic gold medal-winner, would occupy the top spot. However, Daria Schneider and Ibtihaj Muhammad were both capable of overtaking Wozniak for the second slot. Muhammad needed at least a third place finish and Schneider needed at least an eighth place finish to do so.
With her destiny in her own hands, Wozniak placed twelfth, 12 spots higher than Muhammad (24th place) and 33 spots higher than Schneider (45th place). A replacement athlete at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Wozniak has finally earned the opportunity to compete on the Olympic level.
The 2012 Olympic men's individual saber event is on July 29 and the team event is on Aug. 3. The women's individual saber event is on Aug. 1.
For more information on St. John's fencing, log onto redstormsports.com or follow our official twitter account: @STJ_Fencing, using the hashtag: #stjfencing.