Egyptian foil fencer Mohamed Hamza, a rising junior, upset two former world championship medalists on his way to a top-eight finish in individual men’s foil at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The left-handed 20-year-old member of the University’s varsity fencing team entered his second Olympic Games ranked 29th in the world.
In the table of 32, Hamza was matched against Marcus Mepstead of Great Britain, the individual silver medalist at the 2019 World Fencing Championships.
Hamza fell to a 3–0 deficit but tied up the bout to 3–3 by the end of the first period. The back-and-forth continued in the second period as the two were tied at 8–8. Mepstead’s scoring took him to a 13–12 lead over Hamza, but Hamza was able to score three consecutive touches to complete the upset, 15–13, and advance to the table of 16.
Hamza was up against a massive obstacle in the table of 16 in Andrea Cassarà of Italy. The Italian veteran and former individual world champion was fencing at his fifth Olympic Games and was one of the top-seeded competitors in the event.
The bout went much more quickly than Hamza’s matchup against Mepstead and never entered the second period. Hamza again found himself in an early 3–0 deficit and was only able to score one touch before Cassarà widened the lead to a substantial 6–1.
Hamza found his form and began to score against Cassarà, but the latter was in full control of the bout until the score became 13–7. However, Cassarà would never get the last the two touches he needed to advance to the quarterfinals, as Hamza miraculously scored eight straight touches to pull off another 15–13 upset, this time over a former world champion.
Hamza’s campaign would end in the table of eight, as he was defeated by Alexander Choupenitch of the Czech Republic, 15–9. Hamza finished seventh in the event while Choupenitch went on to win the bronze medal.
He will fence again in the team men’s foil event on August 1 at 8 p.m. EDT with his Egyptian teammates, Alaaeldin Abouelkassem and Mohamed Hassan.
In a message to The Daily Princetonian, Hamza thanked members of the University community for believing in him and hyping him up for competition.
“Being so close to the medal round and finishing 7th is bittersweet because it was a great competition but I know I could have done something greater to be honest,” he wrote.
“That said, I’ll definitely take this momentum into my team event and the following individual Olympic event in Paris 2024 hopefully!” Hamza added. “So motivated for what lies ahead!”
Hamza is one of three current University students competing in Toyko, with rising senior Ed Trippas and rising sophomore Sondre Guttormsen set to compete later this week in steeplechase and pole vault, respectively.
This article was updated at 6:30 p.m. EDT on Monday to include comments from Hamza.