Prevailing wisdom in the men’s saber event seems to be “Bet on Limbach”. He is the top ranked fencer in the world and has won 4 individual events this season. Still, there’s something to be said for Christian Bauer as he has coached the last two Olympic Gold medalists in the event.
Bauer is now coaching the Russian saber team and has Yakimenko to #2 in the world rankings. Yakimenko has “only” won 2 events (including the European championship) but he has been more consistent and his wins have been at the end of the season – pointing to peaking at the right time.
Also in the mix for Russia is Reshetnikov, the 5th ranked fencer. Reshetnikov has not won a big one yet and his results range for 2nd (to Yakimenko) in Warsaw, to a 98th place finish in February. Certainly not to be entirely discounted, he needs to have a good day and have the draw come together for him.
Other fencers in contention: Rares Dumitrescu (ROU), Bon Gil Gu (KOR). Bolade Apithy (FRA) and Dumitrescu can meet in the round of 16, and Apithy is mainly a pick because I like how he fences.
If the seeds hold and Limbach faces Yakimenko in the finals, Limbach should feel comfortable – he owns a 3-0 record this season.
The US fencers: Daryl Homer (18th), James Williams (24th), and Tim Morehouse (27th). Homer faces off against Tiberiu Dolniceanu (ROU). They have not met this season, so no prior match-ups to look at. If Homer fences his game and has a good feel for the timing, then he can advance – at which point he’ll need to be fencing well to deal with Yakimenko. Then again, at the Olympics everyone is looking to be fencing their best day.
Morehouse draws Reshetnikov who won their only season match 15-12 back in April. James Williams faces 9th seed Nikolay Kovalev (RUS).