AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France – With one last chance to compete at a Junior World Cup, University of Pennsylvania freshman foilist John Vaiani couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fence one final time and traveled to Aix-en-Provence, France. Representing Team USA, he made the most of his trip and finished third out of 100 foil fencers from across the world on Saturday.
Vaiani traveled alone but was accompanied by 11 other US fencers once in Aix. The group had a national coach, Forrest MacDougall, and a number of other coaches supporting the athletes, including Sean McClain. McClain is a coach at Empire United Fencing, a club in New Jersey where Vaiani trains.
Vaiani knew that fencing overseas was going to be much more difficult. “All of the fencers normally attend schools that allow them to leave early so that they can spend most of their time training with their respective national team,” said Vaiani. “I knew that if I wanted to fence well, I was going to have to fence hard and just trust the training I have been doing at Penn. I felt as though I was well prepared, both physically and mentally.”
In the first round of pools, 28 fencers received byes in the Table of 128. Vaiani was one of the 28, going 5-1 in the pools for a ranking of 17. Once in the Table of 64, Vaiani had to fence one of his American teammates, Raymond Chen. After defeating Chen 15-8, Vaiani took on a strong opponent from Poland named Maciej Podralski in the Table of 32, and defeated him 15-2.
“Each time I stepped onto the strip, I would turn away from my opponent, take deep breathes and just tell myself that I would win,” Vaiani said. “I think that being able to stay calm was a big part of my performance.”
Vaiani went on to defeat Thomas Lerche Berg from Denmark in the Table of 16, 15-10, and then fenced in the Table of 8 against Germany’sCiaranVeitenheimer, who was ranked 24 that day, defeating him 15-9.
Once in the semi-finals, Vaiani took the strip with Francesco Ingargiola from Italy. Ingargiola, ranked No. 1 at the World Cup, is currently ranked No. 1 in the world. Vaiani gave Ingargiola a tough battle but ultimately lost, 15-13.
“Overall, I think my fencing was easily the best I have ever done,” said Vaiani. “I felt in complete control on thestrip at all times in my bouts, and I am really happy with the result. I hope that I will be able to bring this level of fencing to Columbia this weekend as we fence for the Ivy title.”
Tableau de 128: BYE
Tableau de 64: No. 17 John Vaiani def. Raymond Chen (USA) 15-8
Tableau de 32: No. 17 John Vaiani def. Maciej Podralski (POL) 15-2
Tableau de 16: No. 17 John Vaiani def. Thomas Lerche Berg (DEN) 15-10
Tableau de 8: No. 17 Vaiani def. No. 24 Ciaran Veitenheimer (GER) 15-9
Demi-Finales: No. 1 Francesco Ingargiola (ITA) def. No. 17 John Vaiani 15-13