LONDON — Seth Kelsey pointed to the right toe of his neon Nike shoes, as that was where his Olympic men's individual epee dream ended in London.
With 20 seconds left in priority time (overtime) of the bronze medal match, Jinsun Jung of Korea had to be the aggressor. Had the bout ended in a tie in points, Kelsey would have captured bronze with "priority" in the extra session. Jung lunged with his epee and nicked Kesley on the foot — falling on his back in celebration, before running to hug his coaches after the bronze-clinching 12-11 win.
"He hit my foot by, like a quarter of an inch," said Kelsey, rolling his eyes as he moved his fingers closely to signify the lack of distance.
The reason Kelsey faced Jung for third place was because he lost in the semifinals to Ruben Limardo Gascon of Venezuela — again in priority time, and completely by Kelsey's choice.
He was in good spirits after the fourth-place finish, which felt odd for a man who gambled twice and lost.
Does he play poker?
"Nope. Too poor," he quipped.
In the semifinal, Kelsey's game plan involved trying to keep the score and the action to a minimum. At one point, both fencers were called for "passivity" as neither went on the attack.
"I felt like Limardo was holding distance well, was making it incredibly difficult to attack. So take the passivity, maybe the pressure will build and he'll crack."
Kelsey wanted the match to go to priority time, strategically. So he made a proposition to his foe.
"I asked the guy if he wanted to go one-touch, and he said, 'Yeah,'" he said. "I think I'm the only person in the world that does that."
In extra time, Kelsey had to be the aggressor. He lunged, missed, and Limardo counter-attacked for the win, 6-5.
Then, in the bronze-medal match, another heart-breaker: One that included two "double-touches" from the fencers in priority time, lighting up their respective sides in brilliant red and green.
"That just shows how close the two of us are," said Kelsey.
Then, in an instant, it was over. Jung had landed that foot-strike before in the match, but this time it was made in desperation. One touch, one toe, one bronze medal that wouldn't hang around Kelsey's neck.
"It's fun. Olympic medal. All on one touch. It's very exciting," said Kelsey, whose fourth-place finish was one of the best in American history for the event.
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