Men's Foil World No. 1 Alexander Massialas. Photo Credit: Jeremy Summers
(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Once the youngest male member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team in any sport, 21-year-old Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) put himself one step closer to winning gold at the Rio Games this week when he claimed the No. 1 world ranking in men’s foil.
A veteran of six Senior World Teams, Massialas followed his Senior World silver in July with a gold medal at the Tokyo World Cup on Saturday – a win that pushed the Stanford junior from No. 3 to No. 1.
The move meant that Massialas would take the No. 1 position from his teammate, Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.) – a London Olympian who recently became the first U.S. man ever to win the Overall World Cup title for the 2014-15 season.
“It feels good to be the new world No. 1, but the season is still early and there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Massialas who has four international tournaments remaining before the 2016 U.S. Olympic Fencing Team is nominated in April. “It may be nice to be the world No. 1 now, but I'm more worried about taking on each coming competition one by one as we get closer and closer to Rio. The ultimate goal is still gold in Rio.”
While Massialas entered the Tokyo event ranked third in the world, he wasn’t aware that earning the top spot was within reach.
“I knew I was third in the world but I didn't know that I could jump to the No. 1 spot,” Massialas said. “My focus was just on doing well in the competition. It was only later that my dad and teammates said that there might be a chance that I jump to No. 1.”
Previously a position held largely by athletes from European nations, during the last two years, three U.S. fencers have earned the top position in the world rankings. Massialas’s teammate, two-time Olympian Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.), became the first U.S. foil fencer to claim the honor in 2014 and Imboden repeated the feat in June after a season that included five individual podium finishes on the circuit.
Imboden is now No. 3 while Meinhardt, who won bronze in Tokyo, sits at No. 7. Miles Chamley-Watson (New York City, N.Y.), the 2013 Senior World Champion, sits in 12th. Together, the foursome followed Massialas and Meinhardt’s medals in the individual competition with a team gold on Sunday.
“Men's foil has really blossomed in the decade or so. Even five or six years ago, men's foil seldom won medals internationally and a great result for us would be top 16, maybe top eight. Now not only have we raised the standard to having four fencers in the top 16, but we are always a threat to win multiple medals in the individual,” Massialas said. “This isn’t even counting the team event where, as shown by our result in Tokyo, we can win quite emphatically. US men's foil has really shown that we not only can contend with the best of them, but that we are among the best of them.”