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Last Saturday, Penn senior fencing standout Chris Bayer won the Division I men's foil title at the Summer National Championships in Austin, Tx.

But the championship was really just icing on the cake for Bayer -- who had also won the 1997 NCAA foil championship. He had already qualified for the Olympics by virtue of his gold medal in the foil at the World Cup event in Bonn, Germany on April 8 and 9. In addition to securing his status as an Olympian, his World Cup performance moved Bayer up two spots in the world rankings. He is currently No. 8.

Even the Olympics won't be new for Bayer, who deferred his 1995 admission to Penn in order to train for the 1996 Atlanta Games as the youngest fencer ever to make an Olympic squad. Bayer is currently on leave of absence from Penn to train for Sydney this fall.

Even though this will be his second time at the Olympics, it wasn't enough for Bayer to be the best American fencer; he had to prove his mettle on the world stage.

"For the Atlanta games, they just took the top Americans because we were hosting it," Penn fencing coach Dave Micahnik said. "For Sydney you had to have international points, and Cliff obviously had those."

Bayer's former coach, Yefim Litvan, will also be going to Sydney -- as head coach of the U.S. Olympic team. Litvan was also a Quakers assistant for three years before being named head coach at Rutgers.

Bayer's friend, 1994 Penn alum Timar Bloom has also qualified for the Olympics for the second time. Bayer and Bloom have known each other since their pre-college days of training together at the New York Athletic Club.

"Bloom qualified by being the top American point-holder in men's epee," Michanik said. "Then he went to [ the Pan-Am zonal qualifying competition in] Buenos Aires and won the gold medal."

Obviously, Micahnik -- who took second in the US National Championships 60+ epee division -- is proud of both of his former pupils, but it was hard not to see it coming.

"I'm pleased," Michanik said. 'For both of them, this is a repeat. For Sydney, you have to be among the best in the world. They'll be among the top 32 in the world just by walking through the door.

"It's a nice progression, and when you realize that Timar has been going to medical school, it's really impressive."

Medical School?

That's right, Bloom, who could not be reached for comment, has been attending Einstein Medical School in New York while training at, literally, an Olympian's pace.

Chris O'Loughlin, a 1989 Penn alum and former NCAA champion and Olympian himself, won the Division I team men's epee championship as part of the New York Athletic Club.

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