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U.S. men's team falls short of medal

8/21/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- For the second time in these Olympics, an
American men's fencing team fell just short of a medal. And, once
again, a close call at the end went against them.

After upsetting Germany in the quarterfinals, the United States
lost to China in the semifinals then to Russia in the bronze-medal
bout.

Italy won the gold medal, fending off a late run by China to win
45-42.

In their medal match, the Americans were tied at 35, then
trailed 41-38 when Dan Kellner and Youri Moltchan both recorded
touches. The referee awarded the point to Russia and Moltchan went
on to close it out.

It was reminiscent of the agony their saber counterparts endured
Thursday, when close calls on the deciding points went against them
in a semifinal loss to France and the bronze bout against Russia.

"I thought we fenced really well," said Kellner, of Warren,
N.J. "There was one or two bad bouts and maybe one or two bad
calls that came at a crucial time."

The day began with a victory over Germany, which made everything
else a bonus.

The Germans came to Athens as the No. 2 seed, having been
knocked from the top by the Americans in June. The United States
came to the Olympics seeded seventh.

Lingering bitterness from the World Cup event perhaps led to a
surprising snub in the athlete's cafeteria -- the German foil
fencers refused to greet several Americans.

The United States led for most of the quarterfinal, then a roll
by Peter Joppich put Germany ahead by one. Kellner put the U.S.
team back in front, then won with a gutsy move in which he stopped,
let the German attack, then parried his blade before poking his foe
to win the match.

"I could see the point hit his chest in slow motion and the
light come on," Kellner said.

The Americans lost to China by 10 in the semifinal. Italy beat
Russia 45-27 in the other semifinal.

Italy led China by seven late in the finals, but Dong Zhaozhi
scored seven consecutive points off two-time individual world
champion Salvatore Sanzo tie it at 42. Sanzo stalled for time by
changing foils, then won the match with three straight touches.