An American fencer might have cost his team a spot at the 2024 Paris Olympics with his outburst at a competition earlier this week.
Curtis McDowald kicked and damaged a free-standing banner near the competition area Monday following a loss at the Pan American fencing championships in Lima, Peru − leading to a complete disqualification for the U.S. men’s épée team, and a devastating blow for its Olympic qualification hopes.
McDowald, a 2020 Olympian, stormed off the competition strip after being penalized with a red card on the decisive point in the semifinals against Colombia. Video footage shows him subsequently putting his foot through a banner, prompting another member of USA Fencing to attempt to calm him down.
McDowald, 27, was later shown a black card, preventing the U.S. team from competing in the bronze-medal match and gave it zero qualifying points toward Olympic qualification. According to International Fencing Federation rankings, the U.S. had entered the Pan-American Games as the top-ranked team in the men’s épée event.
“We are disappointed by Curtis’s actions and regret that they have harmed Team USA’s chances of fielding a men’s épée team for the 2024 Olympics,” USA Fencing said in a statement.
“The hill that our men’s épée team must climb to qualify for Paris has now become much steeper. We are determined to focus on supporting these athletes and their coaches as they continue to pursue this Olympic dream.”
The national governing body also said McDowald had been removed from the Pan-American Championships team, following a hearing, and he will not be eligible to compete at the 2023 Fencing World Championships next month.
McDowald did not immediately reply to an Instagram message from USA TODAY Sports seeking comment Wednesday.
The U.S. has not won an Olympic medal in the men’s team épée event since 1932. The American team of Jacob Hoyle, Yeisser Ramirez and McDowald placed last at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, losing to the eventual gold-medal winning team, Japan, in the first round.
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