2018 | Bethesda Beat

MoCo Teens Take Top Honors at Austria Fencing Competition

Montgomery Blair, Winston Churchill students competed in weekend event

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Sixteen-year-old Justin Haddad of Bethesda and Yunice Pyo, 16, of Potomac took top honors at an international fencing contest over the weekend in Austria.

DC Fencers Club

Two Montgomery County teens took top honors at an international fencing contest over the weekend in Austria.

Sixteen-year-old Justin Haddad of Bethesda helped lead his team to gold in the first under-17 competition of the season in Klagenfurt, Austria, while Yunice Pyo, 16, of Potomac was a member of a seventh-place team. Both teens are members of the DC Fencers Club in Silver Spring.

Teen fencers from 24 countries attended the weekend event, and Haddad joined the top U.S. team in Sunday’s team competition. The team won five straight matches to take first place in the tournament, according to a press release.

The fencing team event structure is a round robin in which three fencers from each team and an alternate face off for a total of nine bouts, which last three minutes each. The first team to score 45 points or the higher score at the end of nine three-minute periods wins.

“We had our ups and downs throughout the day, but we were most concerned going into our [quarterfinal] bout with Italy 1, the number one seed. We knew we would have to work hard as a team to win,” Haddad said. “I started the bout with a 4-2 lead against their anchor and we just held the lead until the end.”

Haddad is a junior in the Science, Mathematics and Computer Science Magnet program at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring.

Pyo joined a separate United States team that was ranked last of 28 teams to start Sunday’s competition, but finished seventh.

“My team’s goal going in was to fight hard and have fun,” said Pyo, a junior at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac. “As we progressed in the competition, I realized how great an experience participating in teams was. I’ve really enjoyed the dynamic of constant support the entire U.S. team provides each other. The loud cheering really makes the team feel like one giant family.”