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Published on March 04, 2024
Olympic Hopes on Display as Portland Hosts Prestigious USA Fencing March North American CupSource: Unsplash / Eugene Lim

The steel of blades, the buzz of the crowd, and the dreams of Olympic glory have converged in Portland this past weekend. At the USA Fencing's March North American Cup, nearly 2,300 athletes from 24 states have come to cross swords, with Olympic ambitions in their sights. The Oregon Convention Center played host to the event, offering up its sprawling space to fencers with eyes on future games in Los Angeles and Brisbane.

Among the competitors, a strong showing of locals represented Oregon with 115 athletes, 64 of whom were from Portland itself. As the March NAC drew to a close on March 4, it was clear that this was more than just another tournament; it was a gateway to greater glories, according to USA Fencing CEO Phil Andrews, who in a statement obtained by BNN Breaking, said, “The next Mariel Zagunis – or the next great fencer from the US – is likely to be in [The Convention Center] this weekend and be able to be someone who we’ll likely see in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles or Brisbane in 2032.”

At the heart of the competition, tales of triumph have emerged. Joanna Wang took home the Y-12 Women's Foil gold for Mid-Island Fencing Academy / V Fencing Club, crediting her success to the support of friends cheering her on. Regina Lee, meanwhile, is not just content with her Y-14 Women's Epee gold; she's looking ahead to the Junior and Cadet World Championships as a proud representative of Team USA, according to USA Fencing.

Young fencers have also stolen the spotlight. Wesley Kropp shocked himself and the audience by claiming the Y-10 Men’s Epee gold. “It’s really shocking how I made it this far," he told USA Fencing. Howard Li of LA Fencing Academy of Pomona cut through the competition to seize the Y-12 Men’s Saber gold, with a simple, yet arduous strategy: "Training, just train a lot, a lot, a lot.”

While fencers grappled for medals, spectators got a treat—access to high-level fencing action, free of charge. Tara DelaRosa, Executive Director of the Oregon Fencing Alliance, pointed out the unique spectacle offered to families, “It’s impressive and you’ll see high-level fencing talents,” she told KOIN 6 News. This event not just showcased individual brilliance with the saber, foil, or epee—it also unraveled the support systems fostering these young athletes, setting them on their path to Olympic potential.