Beijing, China (Sports Network) - The United States women's fencing team won the silver medal in the team foil competition after losing to Russia in the gold medal match Saturday at the Beijing Olympics.
The U.S. won its first-ever Olympic medal in women's foil fencing and the first overall foil medal since Albert Axelrod took individual bronze at the 1960 Rome Games.
Russia breezed to the gold medal in the final bout, defeating the Americans, 28-11. Emily Cross, Hanna Thompson and Erinn Smart were tied with the Russians, 4-4, after three bouts, but Russia then won 16 of the next 17 points to take a 20-5 advantage en route to the easy victory.
"I don't think we expected today to turn out as it did," said Smart. "You always dream of it, but we can't expect it. We were the underdogs going into our matches and a lot of the other teams didn't expect us to be as strong as we were."
The American women earned the berth in the gold medal match by defeating Hungary, 35-33, in the semifinals. However, the U.S. almost blew a huge lead in that match, as Hungary trailed 33-19 heading into the final encounter between Smart and Aida Mohammed. The Hungarian defeated Smart, 14-2, in that meeting, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Americans big advantage.
The U.S. team of Mariel Zagunis, Sada Jacobson and Becca Ward took bronze in the women's team sabre competition on Thursday.
The Italians were a favorite to win gold after taking three of the top-four places in the individual foil event on Monday. However, Russia posted a 22-21 decision over Italy in the semifinals and scored the deciding touch in overtime.
Maria Valentina Vezzali had won individual gold in the foil for Italy and teammate Margherita Granbassi earned the bronze. Giovanna Trillini placed fourth for the Italians.
08/16 10:20:46 ET