By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Park Slope's Race Imboden felt emboldened, rather than dismayed, following the U.S. men's fencing team's loss to Germany, 45-27, on Sunday in the bronze medal match.
After knocking off France, 45-39, to earn a coveted spot in the semifinals and a shot at gold, Team USA fell to eventual champion and top-seeded Italy, 45-24, before the Germans left Imboden and his fellow foilers medal-less for the London Games. But a youthful American squad, spearheaded by the 19-year-old Imboden, with an Olympics worth of experience under its belt, figures to have a much better chance to reach the podium during the 2016 Games in Brazil.
"I don’t think any of our guys at any point let go," noted Imboden following the loss to the Germans. "We always keep fighting even when we’re down. That’s just how we are. We were the young guys here, but we’re looking ahead to the next few years and we’re only going to get stronger."
Ranked fifth in the world in men's individual foil, Imboden was knocked out early in the singles event before helping the U.S. squad vanquish the French with an impressive 5-1 victory over Enzo Lefort. Against Italy, Imboden posted the Americans' only draw against eight losses in the team event, posting a 5-5 tie with Andrea Baldini, the man who beat him handily in the individual foil last week.
"It didn’t go the way I wanted to and the result was a little disappointing, but Baldini was fencing lights out. I'm young and I got a lot of experience," Imboden admitted. "There’s definitely room for improvement and I’m definitely not satisfied."
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At 30 years old, Brooklyn-born sprinter Justin Gatlin, once heralded as "The World's Fastest Man" following the 2004 Games in Athens, was anxious to get back to Olympic competition after missing Beijing four years ago due to a well-chronicled doping ban.
He did more than just show up in London, however, running away with the bronze medal following a third-place finish in last weekend's much-anticipated event.
Though Jamaica's Usain Bolt made history by defending his gold medal from Beijing with an Olympic-record time of 9.63 seconds Sunday evening, Gatlin came in at 9.79, just behind Bolt's countryman, Yohan Blake, for the silver.
"It just feels good to be back," Gatlin told the Associated Press. "I'm here — another eight years later. My road and my journey coming back — I've been through a lot. There were people out there, on Twitter, Facebook and on my email, who did envision there was another medal for me. I'm glad I believed in them, because they believed in me so much."
After being forced to sit out international track and field events from 2006 to 2010, Gatlin wasn't exactly expected to make the podium in London. But he shocked the world, just as he had done eight years ago in Greece, to cross the tape just ahead of U.S. teammate Tyson Gay on Sunday.
"Gold is gold. Bronze is bronze," Gatlin said when asked which of his medals meant more to him. "But the story that comes behind this bronze ... speechless. It means so much to me. I'm glad to be here. I have a lot left in the tank."
As for Bolt, who became the first-ever athlete to cross the line first in back-to-back Olympic 100-meter events, Gatlin believes the Jamaican is the greatest sprinter of all time, including American Carl Lewis, who won the event in '84 and '88, the latter of which came only after the doping disqualifation of Canada's Ben Johnson.
"He's the equivalent of the guy walking on the moon for the first time. He's done something that no one has ever done before," Gatlin said Sunday.
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Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams, averaging 8.4 points and 5.6 assists during Team USA's 5-0 start in London, will continue his quest for a second straight gold medal Wednesday when the latest version of the "Dream Team" takes on Australia in the quarterfinals.
“With a small team, we can get out and pressure a little more,” Williams said of the 2012 squad. “And on offense it doesn’t hurt us at all.”
Williams had five points and five assists in 15 minutes during Monday's 126-97 blowout of Argentina, while Brooklyn-born Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony finished with five points in 12 minutes before leaving the contest after taking a blow to the groin while draining a 3-pointer to close out a 42-point third quarter for the Americans.
"That third quarter was big for us," Anthony said. "In the first half, we were waiting for them to come to us instead of us attacking them early. But the third quarter, once we settled down and figured it out and got it going, we opened the game up."