Team USA fencer Alexander Massialas won silver in the men’s individual foil competition, ending a 32 year medal drought for the United States.
Daniele Garozzo won the gold medal for Italy. It is Garozzo's first Olympic appearance and gold medal.
Massialas performed well throughout the competition, cruising through the Rounds of 16 and 32. He found himself in a bit of trouble in the quarterfinals when he trailed Italian Giorgio Avola. Massialas rallied to score seven consecutive points to win the match 15-14.
The 22-year-old drew Great Britain's Richard Kruse in the semifinals, defeating the four-time Olympian 15-9 to advance to his bout with Garozzo.
The fencers dueled to a 7-7 tie before Garozzo scored 7 straight points. Down 8-14, Massialas scored three consecutive points before Garozzo was able to get the final hit and secure his first place finish.
With the win, Italy earns its second medal of the Rio Games. Garozzo follows Rossella Fiamingo who took silver in the women's individual epee on the first day.
The last time the United States won a men's fencing medal of any kind was when Peter Westbrook took home bronze at the 1984 Games. The last time an American male fencer won a medal in this event was 56 years ago when Albert Axelrod took home bronze.
Massialas, the #1 ranked fencer in the world, had been viewed as a favorite to win the competition. He is the son of former Olympic fencer Greg Massialas who is his coach.
Timur Safin won the bronze medal earning Russia its first medal in the event since the Sydney Games.
U.S. fencers Gerek Meinhardt and Miles Chamley-Watson were both eliminated earlier in the day. Meinhardt was eliminated by Kruse in the quarterfinals while Chamley-Watson lost to Russian Artur Akhmatkhuzin in the Round of 32.
The U.S. trio, along with alternate Race Imboden, will return to the piste on August 12 to compete in the team competition.
"We'll be able to recover and get refocused," Meinhardt told the Associated Press. "All of us are ready. ... We know it's our best chance."