A golden moment: Lee Kiefer wins the first-ever US Olympic medal in foil

Fencing - Olympics: Day 2
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

By making the gold medal bout in women’s individual foil, 27-year old Lee Kiefer made history. Never in the history of the sport had an athlete from the United States won an Olympic medal in women’s individual foil.

But she wasn’t done yet.

On Monday, Kiefer made history. She won her bout 15-13 and never trailed her opponent Inna Deriglazova (ROC).

Never look back.

Kiefer and her siblings learned fencing from their father Steve, who fenced when he was younger. Her brother Axel and sister Alexandra also grew up competing at the international level. During the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, Kiefer and her husband Gerek Meinhardt – who is also competing in Tokyo – created a fencing strip in her parents’ basement so they could train. 

Never look back.

It was that mentality that compelled her alma mater Notre Dame to name an award after her and Meinhardt, given to “the fencer who gives their time selflessly and humbly in training, as judged by their teammates and coaches.” Axel won the award in 2019.

The Tokyo Games are Kiefer’s third Olympics. In her debut at the 2012 London Games, she placed 5th in the women’s individual tournament and 6th overall in the team competition. Kiefer believed the Rio Games to be her last. She wanted to enroll in medical school and didn’t think another Olympic cycle was possible. With the support of her husband, her family, and advisors at the University of Kentucky Medical School, Kiefer decided to try for Tokyo. 

I think the fact that we all shared this journey and this goal motivated me to make the final push,” she told USA Fencing in February. 

The five years since Brazil were her most successful. In March 2017 she became the first female foil fencer competing for the United States to be ranked number one in the world by the International Federation d’Escrime (FIE). In 2018, Kiefer also became the first fencer to win nine individual Pan American championship titles. During the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, she became the first fencer to win three consecutive individual titles, in any weapon.

In Japan, Kiefer made history once again. Here’s hoping she doesn’t look back or too far ahead, she’s earned the right to savor this victory.

Follow Erica L. Ayala on Twitter @Elindsay08


To stay updated on the biggest news in women’s sports at the Tokyo Olympics (and beyond), be sure to follow On Her Turf on Instagram, Twitter, and bookmark the On Her Turf blog.

During the Olympics, you can also catch up on all of the major storylines in women’s sports by watching “On Her Turf @ The Olympics,” a 30-minute show that will stream for free on Peacock. Hosted by Lindsay Czarniak, MJ Acosta-Ruiz, and Lolo Jones, the show kicks off on Saturday, July 24, and will stream every day of the Games (Monday-Saturday at 7pm ET and Sundays at 6pm ET).