On July 8, Penn senior fencing standout Cliff Bayer won the Division I men's foil title at the Summer National Championships in Austin, Texas. 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 ranked No. 8 among the world's best. 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 American Olympic squad. Bayer is currently on a leave of absence from Penn to train for Sydney. The Olympics begin in two weeks. 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 by taking on the best that international competition has to offer. "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 Tamir 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," Micahnik 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 U.S. 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," Micahnik 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 Tamir has been going to medical school, it's really impressive." That's right, Bloom, who could not be reached for comment, has been attending Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y., while training at, literally, an Olympian's paceComments powered by Disqus
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