Bayer, Cliff : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Bayer, Cliff


Country Represented:
United States

Years Competed:
1996, 2000

Olympic Info:
A two-time Olympian in the foil for the United States, Bayer is one of the America's best fencers. At the 1996 Atlanta Games, he lost in the first round of the individual competition to Ukranian Oleksiy Bryzgalov, 15-11. He also competed in the team foil event and helped the U.S. finish in 10th place.

Entering the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Bayer was ranked No. 8 in the world in the individual foil. Many people favored him to medal, which would have made him the first American to win an Olympic medal since 1984. At the Games, Bayer won his second round match over Ryszard Sobczak of Poland (15-9), but lost in the third round to Young-Ho Kim (14-15), and was eliminated from the competition. Bayer was named the 2000 U.S. Olympic Committee male fencing athlete of the year

Career Highlights:
The only American to ever win a World Cup event, Cliff and his older brother, Greg, used to duel in their parents' living room with Luke Skywalker light sabres when they were children. Their mother, fearing damage to the furniture, took them to a fencing salon in New York City. Bayer, who began competing internationally at the age of 16, has steadily risen through the ranks in the past few years, becoming one of the best American fencers ever, and challenging European supremacy in the discipline.

Bayer said early in his career, "My main motivation has been the belief that fencing is a European-dominated sport, that an American can't compete." At the University of Pennsylvania, where he is enrolled in the Wharton School of Business, Bayer won the U.S. National Championship in 1995, becoming the youngest national champion ever (18). In 1996, he was the NCAA Champion and was named U.S. Fencer of the Year. He won the U.S. National Championship again in 1997 and 1998.

In May 1999, Bayer became the first American to win a medal at a senior men's World Cup event, finishing third (and taking the bronze) in Ephino, Portugal. Three months later, Cliff topped himself by becoming the first American to win a world cup title. In St. Petersburg, he defeated three-time world champion Sergei Goloubitsky in the quarterfinals and then defeated 1995 world champ Dmitry Chevtcheckno of Russia in the final. Bayer said the Russian crowd was so shocked by the result that: "I looked into the crowd and saw 500 dropped jaws." Later that year, Bayer won a second World Cup event in Bonn, Germany.

At the 1999 World Championships, Bayer placed twelfth in the individual foil event, and eleventh in the team foil event. In his three previous World competitions (1995, 1997, 1998), he had not fared better than 30th. He has improved his defense lately, and looks to compete further against the best in the world. In 2000, Bayer was awarded the Outstanding Jewish Scholastic Athlete of the Year Award by the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Commack, New York.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. May 14, 1977

New York City

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Jewish Sports Review, September/October 2000 issue (Vol. 2, No. 8, Issue 21)
New York Times, July 23, 1996