April 23, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A trio of Buckeyes from the 2011-12 NCAA champion fencing team secured places at the 2012 Olympic Games in London at last-opportunity qualifying tournaments April 20-22. The brother-sister duo of Zain and Mona Shaito will each represent Lebanon in foil, while teammate Margarita Tschomakova will don Bulgarian colors in women’s sabre.

The Shaito siblings traveled to Wakayama City, Japan, to compete in the Asia and Oceania Olympic Qualifier. Freshman Mona Shaito, the second-youngest in a field of 13, earned her berth April 20, edging fencers from Singapore, the Philippines and Vietnam, among other countries. She defeated Singapore’s Ruth Yi Lin Ng in the final to earn gold at the event.

Second-year foilist Zain Shaito followed up April 21, besting a group of 19 fencers to earn a trip to London alongside his sister. He downed Thailand’s Nontapat Panchan in the final bout. Panchan, a two-time NCAA champion (2002-03) at Penn State, competed at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.

Both Shaitos, residents of Texas with dual-citizenship in Lebanon, have spent time training with USA Fencing and are members of the Fencing Institute of Texas.

Tschomakova, with dual-citizenship in Germany and Bulgaria, secured one of four spots out of a group of 12 April 22 at the European Zonal in Bratislava, Slovakia, to represent Bulgaria at the 2012 Olympics. Tschomakova earned a No. 4 seed after winning 60 percent of her qualifying bouts and proceeded to outlast Great Britain’s Joanna Hutchison, 15-13, in the Round of Eight to secure her spot in the Games this summer.

All three played a vital role in Ohio State’s capture of the NCAA team title, the third in program history, at the 2012 NCAA Championships in March. Zain Shaito earned the No. 1 seed in men’s foil with a group-leading 19 victories before carrying the momentum to his first individual championship. Mona Shaito led all female fencers with 21 wins to also secure the top seed in women’s foil. Tschomakova provided 13 wins for the Scarlet and Gray in the qualifying rounds and finished seventh. The Bonn, Germany, native never finished below ninth in her four years at the NCAA event.

Fellow NCAA competitors from the Buckeye squad, Kristian Boyadzhiev of Bulgaria and Caroline Piasecka of Norway, competed at the European Zonal. Boyadzhiev finished 20th out of 28 in the men’s epee qualifying rounds, but fell in the first round to Niko Vuorinen of Finland, 15-7. Piasecka placed 14th out of 21 in women’s epee but couldn’t upset top-seeded Emese Szasz of Hungary in the Round of 16.

Ohio State alumni Hannah Thompson and Jason Rogers represented the United States at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Thompson, a 2005 graduate, was a member of the women’s foil unit that captured a silver medal, while Rogers, a 2006 graduate, keyed a silver-medal performance by the men’s sabre team.