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Cliff Bayer just keeps gliding along on the road to Sydney. The Wharton senior, who has taken this year off from school and the Penn fencing team to train for the Olympics, qualified for the Games last month with his win at a World Cup event in Bonn, Germany. Bayer, a foilist, vaulted to No. 8 in the world rankings with the gold medal. When he goes to Sydney in September, he will try to become the first American to medal in fencing since 1984 and only the second in the past 40 years. "It's been a great year for me, and it probably would have been a great year for a European fencer," Bayer said. "One thing that's particularly nice is that I've heard so many times that Americans can't do a sport like fencing because we don't have the tradition, we don't have this, we don't have that. A hundred excuses why Americans can't be successful in fencing. "This year, it's changing. People are starting to change the way they think. It's great to be part of that, almost like a revolution." In addition to Bayer's success, the American team recently won the Junior World Championships. Bayer, meanwhile, has become the first American ever to win a gold medal at a World Cup event. The Bonn victory is the second for him in the past year. Bayer won an event last summer in St. Petersburg, Russia. Bayer's year off from Penn hasn't been necessary just because of the travel, though. His training has been nothing short of intensive, just as should be expected from an Olympic athlete. Based in New York, Bayer trains, twice a day, six days a week. His mornings consist of running, biking or swimming to improve his strength. Then, in the afternoon, Bayer suits up for the fencing portion of his day. That usually consists of either a lesson from his coach or practice bouts with other members of the American national team. "One thing I've been working on a lot this year is becoming a much more diversified fencer, opening up my game a lot more," Bayer said. "That's one of the main reasons I've had so much success. A lot of fencers tend to have a certain type of move, and if that move works, they keep doing it. "It happens with younger fencers because they don't know any better. Once you get older, you have to keep changing, because one move isn't necessarily going to do it." One way that Bayer has diversified is by working on his defense more than in past years -- he had been known in the past as mainly an attacking fencer. This work paid off in Bonn. There, Daniele Crosta, ranked No. 14 in the world, tried to exploit this reputation, but Bayer adapted to Crosta's attacks to win the bout. "A lot of people just might look at me and say 'Cliff is a real good aggressive fencer, so I'm not going to let him attack me, I'm going to automatically attack him and he's going to be dead,'" Bayer said. "Something I've been working on then is to build up my defense to counter-attack those people who are thinking that." The result of all of this work is that Bayer will miss a little bit more school in September to compete in Sydney.

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