Lee Kiefer

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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

Three more U.S. fencers qualify for Rio Olympics

Miles Chamley-Watson
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Foil fencers Miles Chamley-WatsonLee Kiefer and Nzingha Prescod qualified for their second Olympic teams over the weekend.

The U.S. Olympic team across all sports is now up to 47 qualified athletes.

Chamley-Watson, a former world No. 2 and the only U.S. man to earn a World or Olympic title (2013 Worlds) in any fencing event, joins world No. 1 Alexander Massialas and world No. 3 Gerek Meinhardt on the U.S. Olympic men’s foil team.

All three will compete individually and in the team event in Rio.

A fourth American, world No. 4 Race Imboden, will serve as a replacement athlete for the team event but is not on the official U.S. Olympic team until he competes in Rio, should he be used.

Chamley-Watson is ranked No. 10 in the world but beat out Imboden in U.S. Fencing points standings for Olympic qualification.

In 2012, Chamley-Watson, Imboden and Massialas competed individually at the Olympics, with none getting past the round of 16. Those three and Meinhardt also finished fourth in the 2012 Olympic team event. The U.S. last earned an Olympic men’s foil medal in 1960.

On the women’s side, Kiefer and Prescod also clinched their second Olympic berths over the weekend. There is no women’s foil team event at the Rio Olympics, so Kiefer and Prescod will not be joined by any more U.S. women’s foil fencers.

Kiefer is ranked No. 4 in the world. Prescod is No. 10.

At the 2015 World Championships, Prescod lost in the semifinals, receiving a bronze medal, and Kiefer fell in the quarterfinals.

The U.S. has once earned an Olympic women’s foil medal, a silver in the Beijing 2008 team event.

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