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August 26, 1988 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-08-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Today

J

aul Friedberg and
Elaine Cheris will
both be members of
the U.S. Olympic fencing
team, but they reached the
top of their sport in opposite
ways.
Friedberg, 28, of Riverdale,
N.Y., says "swashbuckling
pirate movies" led him to
begin fencing lessons at the
• Jewish Center in Baltimore.
Cheris, one of the oldest
American Olympians at 42,
starred in sprints and hurdles
on the Troy State (Alabama)
track team and first picked up
a blade at age 28.
"I was the assistant athletic
director at the Jewish Com-
munity Center in New
Haven, Conn.," she recalls. "I
had three lessons, entered a
meet and finished third,
defeating a man who'd been
training in Paris for a year.
"After the meet, Uriah
Jones, my coach, sat me down
and said — this was in 1975
— 'How'd you like to make the
'80 Olympic team?' And I
did."
After the American boycott
of the 1980 Olympics in
Moscow, Cheris did win a
Gold and Silver in the 1981
Maccabiah Games in the foil.
Friedberg won an individual
silver and a team gold in the
sabre at those games.
"But during the '84 Games
tryouts, it was in the back of
my mind that something
might happen again and I -
just froze up" and did not
make the team, Cheris con-
tinues. "I was ranked No. 1 in
1985 but popped a hamstring
muscle and was out for a
while.
"I'm glad that I'm ranked
fourth on the (1988) team;
four of us compete for the
team medals, and only the top
three compete for the in-
dividual medals, which take
place during Yom Kippur."
Friedberg is a budget
analyst for the New York
Power Authority's St. Law-
rence-Franklin D. Roosevelt
Power Project in Massena,
working out of White Plains.
At Penn, Friedberg was
ranked All-Ivy League all
four years and All-America
three times. In his senior
year, he won two NCAA
championships, team/individ-
ual saber, and won Penn's
Outstanding Athlete Award.
His brother, John, was an
NCAA champion at the
University of North Carolina,
He won a Gold Medal in the
1985 Maccabiah and just
missed this year's Olympic

team. Paul Friedberg has
been on three World Univer-
sity Games teams, two World
Championships teams and
took second in the Pan
American Games in 1987.
"This is my first Olympics
and I think I'm improving
with age," said the 5-foot-7,
150-pounder. "Most athletes
reach their athletic peak in
the late teens and early 20's,
but in fencing it's the late 20's
and early 30's because so
much depends on technique,
experience and general fenc-
ing sense.

"I think our team would be
doing well to be in the top
eight; to win a medal we'd
have to beat the USSR,
Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria,
France or Italy. Fencing has
made rule changes that will
make it faster, thus better for
spectators. A good showing by
either team would mean more
media attention and more
future participants."
Cheris, 5-foot-8Y2 and 120
pounds, belongs to what is
probably America's "first
family of fencing." Her hus-
band, Sam, a managing part-
ner in the law firm of Hall
and Evans in Denver, met his
wife when he offered her a
ride after the Olympic Sports
Festival in 1978; he was the
meet organizer.
A competitor in high school
and college, Sam Cheris
started the epee team at
Stanford while he was in law
school and now is president of
the U.S. Fencing Association.
His son (from a previous mar-
riage, who lives with Sam and
Elaine) Aaron, 14, is ranked
No. 1 in his age group and
served as a judge during the
Olympic trials.
"Both Sam and Aaron have
been very supportive of my
schedule this year," Mrs.
Cheris says. "I've been work-
ing out four times a day, every
day since September, running
at 6 a.m., drilling at 10 a.m.,
lifting weights at 2 p.m. and
fencing bouts at 6 p.m.
"At the age of 42 it's been
difficult but Sam and Aaron
understand. Sam didn't miss
one of my meets."
After the Olympics, Elaine
Cheris has another goal:
"There are a very small
number of Jewish women
fencers, only three or four
other than myself. And the
best three qualify for the
Maccabiah Games. I'd really
like to build up the base so we
have more women qualified to
compete for the '93 Mac-
cabiah."

K

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