By Laura Amato
The United States fencing team will be a little more red than white or blue when the squad lands in Rio for this year’s Olympic Games—Red Storm, that is.
St. John’s will be well represented on Team USA, with head fencing coach Yury Gelman named to the U.S. Fencing staff and a pair of former Red Storm standouts set to compete for gold.
The 2016 Games mark Gelman’s fifth-straight trip to the Olympics as part of the national fencing team and the U.S. Fencing Hall of Famer is determined to help add to his already impressive resume in the sport.
In his last Olympics, Gelman helped lead the United States men’s saber team to a silver medal—the team’s first medal since 1984.
Former St. John’s star Keeth Smart was also a member of the 2012 medal-winning team.
Now Gelman is set to help lead another Red Storm duo on the international stage.
Dagmara Wozniak will make her third appearance at the Olympics this summer, competing in the women’s saber, while Daryl Homer will make his second appearance in the games, competing in the men’s saber.
The former Red Storm stars have a strong foundation for their efforts.
During the 2012 games, Homer finished in sixth place in the men’s individual saber competitions and Wozniak posted an eighth-place finish in the women’s individual saber.
In 2015, Wozniak, who has been fencing since she was 9 years old, earned a team bronze at the Senior World Championships as well as an individual and team gold at the Pan American Games.
Meanwhile, Homer earned a silver in the men’s saber at the 2015 World Championship, under the guidance of Gelman, becoming the first U.S. man to do so. He also won a silver medal at the Pan American Championship in 2015 and made another appearance at the Senior World Championship earlier this year.
The four-time NCAA All-American at St. John’s is currently ranked No. 2 in the country and No. 7 in the world. Homer credits Gelman with his success over the years. “I would say that in the group of fencers I started with that I wasn’t the best,” Homer said in his Team USA bio. “I have to thank my coach for continuously working with me and motivating me despite my lackluster results as a youth.”
The 2016 games get underway Friday, but fencing competitions won’t begin until Saturday. The competition will be certainly be a challenge—this is, after all, the Olympics—but as far as the St. John’s athletics world is concerned, these former Johnnies are more than ready to storm Rio.