|Erinn Smart is sky-high after leading the US to a quarterfinal win en route to the silver medal. (Associated Press)|
Foil medal wrapped up by Smart
BEIJING - When American fencer Erinn Smart felt her shot at a gold medal slipping away, she turned to someone who knew exactly what she was feeling.
Brother Keeth Smart, whose losses in close matches cost the United States a fencing medal in 2004, offered encouragement from the crowd when Erinn struggled through the last rotation of the women's team foil semifinal yesterday against Hungary.
"He was actually the one that kind of calmed me down at the end of that Hungary match," Erinn said. "I was looking at him in the crowd. He just told me to stay calm, focus."
Though she was outscored, 14-2, the US held on to win, 35-33. The Americans earned the silver later, losing to Russia in the final, for their first medal in women's foil and the first for the US in all of foil since 1960.
Erinn laughed and joked at the press conference, saying she knew what kind of lead she had against Hungary.
"Being 1 point ahead at the end - that's all that matters," she said.
In the final, Russia's team of Evgenia Lamonova, Victoria Nikichina, and Svetlana Boyko simply outdid Smart and teammates Emily Cross and Hannah Thompson, winning, 28-11. The final featured nine three-minute rotations, with a point per touch. Through eight rotations, the Russians led, 20-5.
Smart knew the top-ranked Russians were going to be tough.
"The Russians are such a strong team," she said. "They're exceptionally tall, so to try to get touches on them can be extremely difficult."
But she didn't dwell on the loss. The Americans beat No. 2 Poland in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Hungary in the semifinals.
"I don't think we even expected this to turn out as it did," she said. "We were the underdogs going into all of our matches. Some other countries didn't expect us to be as strong as we were."