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Nine fencers nominated to represent Team Canada at Tokyo 2020

WOLFE ISLAND, ONT. (May 20, 2021) – The Canadian Fencing Federation and the Canadian Olympic Committee announced Canada’s largest Olympic fencing team since Beijing 2008 as five men and four women were nominated to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The size of the team is largely attributed to Canada qualifying both the women’s and men’s foil teams for the first time since Seoul 1988.

The women’s foil team will be composed of Jessica Guo, Eleanor Harvey, and Kelleigh Ryan, who helped Canada qualify based on their sixth-place world team ranking. They will also compete in the individual foil event.

Set to make her Olympic debut at just 15 years old, Guo is currently the top-ranked Canadian in women’s individual foil at number 15 in the world. This year, Guo was crowned the 2021 World Champion at the cadet level and won a world championship bronze at the junior level. At 14, she became a double silver medallist for Team Canada at the Lima 2019 Pan Am Games in the team and individual foil events. 

Harvey will be competing in her second Olympic Games. During her Olympic debut at Rio 2016, she earned Canada’s best-ever Olympic result in an individual fencing event, finishing seventh after upsetting world number one, Arianna Errigo of Italy, in the women’s foil competition.

Following the Games, Harvey continued to write her name in the history books, becoming the first Canadian female foil athlete ever to win an FIE Grand Prix medal when she finished third at an event in Shanghai in 2018. At the 2019 Pan American Games, Harvey captured three medals, including individual foil bronze and team foil silver.

Ryan is also set to make her first Olympic appearance this summer. As a member of the national team for over a decade, Ryan has competed at each edition of the FIE World Championships since 2009. She also previously represented Canada at the 2011 and 2015 Pan Am Games. She won a gold medal at TORONTO 2015 for her efforts in the team foil competition.

On the men’s side, Maximilien Van Haaster, Eli Schenkel and Alex Cai will compete in foil.

Van Haaster will be making his second consecutive Olympic appearance. After achieving a career-high world ranking of 23rd during his 2017-18 season when he also had a career-best finish of 16th at the world championships, the Montreal native captured two bronze medals at Lima 2019 in the individual and team foil events.

“I am very proud to be able to represent Canada at the Olympic Games for a second time. All the athletes and coaches have worked very hard over the past five years to qualify a men’s foil team at the Olympic Games for the first time since 1988,” said Van Haaster.

Schenkel, who was also part of that team foil bronze at Lima 2019, will be competing in his first Olympic Games. He also represented Canada at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games and four editions of the FIE World Championships.

Alex Cai is also making his Olympic debut. Just three years ago the 20-year-old made his senior international debut at a Grand Prix event in Anaheim, California. Since then, Cai has been named to the senior national team and helped Canada win silver in the team foil competition at the 2019 Pan American Championships. 

Gabriella Page and Shaul Gordon are set to represent Canada in the women’s and men’s individual sabre events, each qualifying through the FIE world rankings.

At the 2019 Pan American Games, Page won individual sabre bronze and competed in all three team events, winning silver in foil and bronze in sabre. She also won the individual sabre bronze at the 2019 Pan American Championships. Page competed at her first senior world championships a decade ago when she was just 16 and will make her Olympic debut ranked in the top-30 in the world.

Gordon has represented Canada at two Pan American Games, six FIE World Championships and will now add the Olympic Games to his resume. At Lima 2019, he helped Canada win a team sabre silver and captured a bronze medal in the individual sabre event. At the 2019 World Championships, Gordon placed 8th, marking the best performance in Canadian sabre history. He is currently ranked 22nd in the world.

Canada will have one entry in epée courtesy of Marc-Antoine Blais Bélanger, who qualified by winning the Americas Zone qualification event at the beginning of May. Blais Bélanger is a seven-time Canadian champion who was part of Team Canada at the Lima 2019 Pan Am Games.  In 2018, he posted a top-10 finish in individual épée at the FIE World Championships.

“I am very proud of my first Olympic qualification, which came despite many obstacles in the last year,” said Blais Belanger. “I know a lot of people weren’t expecting it, but my team and I were confident that our efforts over the past few years would result in a step towards our dream of winning an Olympic medal.”

The athletes nominated are: 

  1. Marc-Antoine Blais Bélanger (Montréal, Que.) – Épée
  2. Alex Cai (Toronto, Ont.) – Foil
  3. Shaul Gordon (Richmond, B.C.) – Sabre
  4. Jessica Guo (Toronto, Ont.) – Foil
  5. Eleanor Harvey (Hamilton, Ont.) – Foil
  6. Gabriella Page (Blainville, Que.) – Sabre
  7. Kelleigh Ryan (Ottawa, Ont.) – Foil
  8. Eli Schenkel (Vancouver, B.C.) – Foil
  9. Maximilien Van Haaster (Montréal, Que.) – Foil

Blake Broszus (San Diego, California) and Alanna Goldie (Calgary, Alta.) were named alternates for the men’s and women’s team foil events, respectively.

The coaches nominated are:

  1. Paul Apsimon (Ottawa, Ont.) – Women’s Foil Coach
  2. Jean-Marie Banos (Lavelanet, France) – Men’s Sabre Coach
  3. Julien Camus (Orléans, France) – Men’s Foil Coach / Men’s Epee Coach
  4. Benjamin Manano (Tarbes, France) – Women’s Sabre Coach
  5. Mike Pederson (Wayzata, Minnesota) – Assistant Women’s Foil Coach

Fencing at Tokyo 2020 will be held at Makuhari Messe Hall B during the first week of the Games. The individual events in all three weapons will take place during the first three days of competition, July 24-26. The women’s team foil will take centre stage on July 29 with the men’s team foil on August 1.

“Very exciting that so many fencers have qualified and I love that this is in part because the foil teams have performed so well,” said Team Canada’s Chef de Mission, Marnie McBean. “It’s easy to mistake fencing as a solo sport – but clearly Team Canada has come in strong by working together: One for all – and all for one!” 

Canada’s highest Olympic team result is a pair of fourth-place finishes – once in the men’s team épée at Los Angeles 1984 and again in the women’s team épée at Athens 2004. Eleanor Harvey holds the highest individual result with her seventh-place finish in Rio.

Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Organisations.

The latest Team Canada Tokyo 2020 roster can be found here and the qualification tracker can be found here.

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MEDIA CONTACTS:

Benjamin Manano – High Performance Director
Fencing Canada
C: 438-777-8870
E: hpd@fencing.ca  

Josh Su, Specialist, Public Relations
Canadian Olympic Committee
C: 647-464-4060
E: jsu@olympic.ca 

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