Garwood, NJ, October 8, 2015 … A grueling World Cup schedule marked the start of the 2015 fencing season.  Garwood’s Advance Fencing & Fitness Academy (AFFA) student athletes, representing Team USA, stood on the podium wearing hard-fought hardware for their country, earning medals in Poland, Costa Rica and Hungary World Cups.


The second of the three world cups took place in San Jose, Costa Rica. AFFA fencer Olivia Szumilo (Staten Island, NY) was a member of Team USA’s squad of four. The Junior (U-20) World Cup is a crucial tournament for USA’s overall world ranking. The team was seeded 1st going into the tournament, earning a bye into the semi-final round. USA then defeated Canada 45-31 and advanced to fence against the 2nd seeded Mexican team.  In the final match, the Americans were upset 45-35, bringing home the Silver.


The third and final world cup, before a one-week break in the competition schedule, was held in Godollo, Hungary. Fifteen-year-old Martha Merriam (Tenafly, NJ) tried to improve on her individual Bronze medal finish from Poland and 9th place finish in Costa Rica. Merriam finished the first round undefeated beating competitors from Russia, Romania, Italy, Germany, Ukraine and Hungary – earning herself a number 3 seed out of 194 athletes.

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Merriam received a first-round bye into the round of 128 and then went on to defeat Clara Trompete of Germany 15-8 to advance to the table of 64.  In Martha’s top 32 bout, she defeated Ludovica Ferrari of Italy 15-11. She then defeated Sabina Martis of Romania 15-10 followed by Anna-Lena Buerkert 15-8 to reach the top 8. She was then defeated by Liza Pusztai of Hungary 15-10, however not eliminated due to the repechage format (double elimination) starting from the round of 32. Merriam defeated Dora Marton of Hungary to re-enter the top 8. The quarterfinal bout was a hard fought match against fellow American Kara Linder of Arizona. Merriam lost a close 15-13 match to finish with a 5th place medal, while Linder would go onto win the Bronze.  


AFFA coach Aleksander Ochocki not only traveled as Merriam’s coach, but was served as the U.S. Men’s National Team Coach for the World Cup. Team USA was one of 39 teams competing and coming in with a number 2 ranking. The team lost in the semi-final match to Russia, but went on to beat Italy for the Bronze.


In its third season since opening its doors, AFFA is ranked one of the top four clubs in the country for women’s saber in the age level of Junior (U-20) and Cadet (U-17), and top 10 in youth men’s saver according to the National Fencing Club Rankings.  Martha and Olivia are coached by multiple-time National Champion, former U.S National Team Member Aleksander Ochocki along with former Penn State Assistant Coach and current Oak Knoll Associate Head Coach Jerome Guth. Thirteen AFFA athletes will compete this weekend in the North American Cup held in Richmond, VA.


With a state-of-the-art facility and notable champion coaches, AFFA delivers world-class, personalized training to empower and create opportunities for all ages and skill levels. For additional information about AFFA, classes or how to get started please visit or call (908)290-5055.