Lee Kiefer, first fencer to qualify for U.S. Olympic team, eyes another first in Tokyo

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If Lee Kiefer is going to become the first U.S. woman to earn an individual foil medal at the Olympics, she’s off to a strong start this year.

Kiefer became the first U.S. fencer to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic team as No. 1 in the national team standings, according to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

Kiefer, 25, will go to her third Olympics. She reached the quarterfinals at London 2012 and the round of 16 at Rio 2016. Since, Kiefer made the quarterfinals of the last two world championships.

She’s been the top U.S. woman in foil for the last decade, a fixture in the top five of the world rankings for the last five years and became the first American to be ranked No. 1 in 2017.

But no U.S. woman has stood on an individual Olympic podium in foil, despite it being the longest-running women’s fencing event at the Games (since 1924). The U.S. earned a team foil silver at Beijing 2008 and made the podium of the last three world championships.

Kiefer married fellow Olympic fencer Gerek Meinhardt last year and is on leave from medical school at the University of Kentucky for the Olympic year. The wedding was at Keeneland, a famous horse-racing track in Lexington.

Other contenders to make the U.S. foil team include Olympic veterans Nicole Ross and Nzingha Prescod.

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MORE: List of U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics