Silver for Polossifakis, Bronze for Page During Opening Day of Pan Am Fencing Competitions
July 20 – Gabriella Page and Joseph Polossifakis both came within inches of gold, but fate smiled on their American counterparts on this day.
While both may have been slightly disappointed in their results, the smiles put on their faces by the raucous home crowd won’t be fading away anytime soon.
"This crowd has been amazing,” said Polossifakis, “The cheering is coming from all sides, people chanting ‘Polo!’…it's a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Polossifakis fell in the finals of the individual men’s sabre competition to American Eli Dershwitz, while Page was defeated in the women’s semi-finals by American Dagmara Wozniak, who went on to win Pan American gold on the women’s side. Both were led by Quebec-based national sabre coaches Benjamin Manano and Stephane Hamel.
Marissa Ponich was knocked out of the competition in the table of 16, good for 10th overall, while Shaul Gordon lost in the quarterfinals on the men’s side, earning him 5th place.
Page and Ponich both advanced to the table of 16 with relative ease, however the seeding resulted in an unfortunately early bout between the two Canadians, with Page winning their table of 16 matchup by a score of 15-9.
Page then faced off against top-seeded Maria Pliego Lara in the quarter finals, where she took an 8-7 lead into the break before jumping ahead and winning by a final of 15-13.
Page drew Dagmara Wozniak as her semi-final opponent. The American earned the fifth seed coming out the pool rounds, but came on strong in the direct elimination rounds. The two went back and forth throughout the first half of the bout, with Wozniak leading 8-7 at the break. Page stormed out of the gate in the second half, building up an 11-8 lead, but Wozniak quickly climbed back to tie the score. Page was able to draw within one, but Wozniak ended it before Page could continue her comeback bid, taking it by a final score of 15-13.
“There’s a long story behind this bronze medal – I had a long season, and this is the cherry on top of the season,” said Page. “Maybe it’s not gold, but I performed really well, and I never fenced like that during the season, and it really makes me believe that I have the potential to make it to the Olympics.”
On the men’s side, Polossifakis and Gordon ran right through their pool-round opponents, as both went undefeated and won their groups by wide margins. Polossifakis beat Stryker Weller of the Virgin Islands by a score of 15-3 in his table of 16 bout, while Gordon handled Colombian Luis Enrique Correa Vila, beating him 15-7.
Both struggled early on in the quarter finals. Polossifakis was down 7-3 at one point, but recovered well and went on a 12-1 run to defeat Mexican Julian Ayala Navarrete by a score of 15-8 to advance to the medal round. Gordon’s run came to a halt against Dershwitz, who beat Gordon 15-10 despite a valiant effort by the Richmond, B.C. native.
Polossifakis went up against a familiar opponent in Brazilian Renzo Agresta, who was riding a huge wave of momentum after soundly defeating Olympian and 2015 world championship silver medallist Daryl Homer in the quarters. That didn’t deter the 24-year old Montrealer, as he continuously slowed the bout to his pace and ultimately pulled out a 15-13 victory. Polossifakis got off to a good start against Dershwitz, but the American pulled away in the second half of the bout and didn’t give Polossifakis a chance to get back into the bout, finishing the bout off with a strong touch to win gold.
“It was pretty close until the end when I got a little upset,” he said, “I lost some mental focus and I rushed the last couple of points, and that’s what cost me the match.
Polossifakis was mobbed my family, friends and fans, new and old, following the performance, a moment he enjoyed every second of.
“I’m going to start charging for autographs!” he said. “Having my family here for this, it’s one of the greatest memories I will ever have. To be able to win a medal like this in front of my family is beyond measure, especially with what I have been through this year. I’ll never forget this moment.”
The action continues tomorrow as men’s and women’s epee get going in the morning.