The United States dominated the 2022 Junior & Cadet Pan-American Zonal Fencing Championships in Lima, Peru, winning a total of 36 medals, including 13 gold, 11 silver and 12 bronze.
Every podium in every event — 18 of 18 — included at least one athlete sporting the stars and stripes. Two events — cadet women’s saber and cadet men’s foil — saw Team USA sweep all four podium positions.
Team USA took home gold medals in five of the six team events — winning titles in women’s and men’s foil, women’s and men’s epee, and women’s saber. That success continued in the individual events, as well, where Team USA fencers took home gold medals in eight of the 12 solo competitions.
It was a strong showing for Team USA at the 21-nation tournament, held from March 21–27 for athletes from North America, Central America and South America. The pool of competitors came from as far north as Canada and as far south as Chile and Argentina.
For many Team USA athletes, the chance to compete on the international stage had a different feel from domestic tournaments. Caleb Jeon (Sunnyvale, Calif./Silicon Valley Fencing Center), who won gold in cadet men’s foil, called the chance to represent the United States “a thrilling and memorable experience.”
“The competitive aura of fencing with people from other countries was unique because I felt as if I was competing as a team,” Jeon says. “Compared to national competitions where they’re more individual and club-based, fencing internationally gave me the motivation to fence even harder knowing I had teammates who supported me.”
For Michaela Joyce (Sterling, Va./Cardinal Fencing Academy), who won silver in junior women’s epee and gold in the junior women’s epee team event, fencing hard meant powering through a tough semifinal bout. Trailing by three touches, she found the resolve to eke out a 15-14 win and advance to the finals.
“I was able to remain focused and resilient while listening to the National Team coach’s outstanding advice and guidance,” she says. “I learned that I can overcome adversity and use my strengths.”
While she’s proud to secure an individual medal, Joyce says she’s equally thrilled to compete against other young women from around the world and, ultimately, to bring a team gold to the United States.
“I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to become friends with fencers from all over the world,” she says. “Being able to represent my country on an international stage is an amazing and beautiful experience.”