Bloom reaches second round of Olympic epee

by Will Hancock - U.S. Olympic Committee (8113-0232)

U.S. fencer falls to world's No. 1 epeeist

SYDNEY, Australia -- U.S. men's epeeist Tamir Bloom reached the second round
of Saturday's competition before losing to the top-ranked player in the
world as Olympic fencing competition began.

Competing against No. 1-ranked Arnd Schmitt of Germany, 59th-ranked Bloom
nearly came all the way back from a 6-1 deficit, cutting Schmitt's lead to
8-7 with just over one minute remaining. But Schmitt regained command of the
match, and although Bloom cut the lead to two touches, Schmitt advanced with
a 15-12 victory.

"It's certainly tough to go up against the No. 1 player in the world," said
Bloom, who officially finished 29th in the event. "Being down five touches
was tough since he knew I'd have to attack. But this has been a great
experience. I had a choice when I injured my knee a few months ago, but I
decided to put off surgery so I could attend the Olympics. Being out on the
strip here in this atmosphere against one of the best players in the world
is what it's all about."

Bloom's coach, Yefim Litvan, was impressed with the bout.

"I don't remember anyone coming back like that against this guy [Schmitt]
because he's one of the best," Litvan said. "I told Tamir, 'You did a good
job. You had nothing to lose, so this was your chance to show your best
fencing.' Unfortunately, he started a little stiff, but after the second
period, he put up a good fight."

Bloom won a tension-filled bout with Andrei Murashko of Belarus to reach the
round of 32. The fencers entered the third and final period tied 1-1 after
Bloom recorded a touch in the first period and Murashko scored in the
second. After Murashko took his only lead, 2-1, with just over a minute
remaining, Bloom equalized seconds later and then went ahead 3-2 with 19
seconds left. With Murashko attacking desperately, Bloom was able to push
the lead to 6-2 and eventually won 8-4.

"When I go down a touch late, I know I have to attack," said Bloom. "Once I
was ahead with not much time, I knew he would have to come at me, so I just
waited for him."

The fencing competition continues Sunday with women's epee. The United
States' Arlene Stevens opens her Olympic career at 9:30 a.m. Sydney time
(6:30 p.m. Saturday EDT) against Zahra Gamir of Algeria.

2000 Olympic Games
Fencing Men's Epee Competition
Saturday, July 16, 2000

Medal Winners

Gold: Pavel Kolobkov, Russian Federation
Silver: Hugues Obry, France
Bronze: Sang-Ki Lee, Korea

Gold-Medal Bout
Kolobkov def. Obry 15-12

Bronze-Medal Bout
Lee def. Marcel Fischer, Switzerland, 15-14

U.S. Results

Round of 64
Tamir Bloom, Millburn, N.J., def. Andrei Murashko, Belarus, 8-4

Round of 32
Arnd Schmitt, Germany, def. Bloom 15-12