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Team USA fencing leaves Tokyo with gold and bronze medals

By Talia Massi, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication | Aug. 04, 2021, 6:28 p.m. (ET)

Four U.S. fencers hold the American flag and celebrate winning bronze in the men's team foil at the 2020 Olympic Games.

After a successful run in Tokyo, the U.S. fencing team returns home with two medals, special memories and valuable experience.

Lee Kiefer (Notre Dame, fencing) was the first American woman to win gold in individual foil. 

Kiefer, a three-time Olympian, won her first medal after defeating Inna Deriglazova from the Russian Olympic Committee in the gold medal bout.

"I had so much fun and to come out here and feel good about your fencing is really what all the athletes try to do and hope you have a medal at the end,” Kiefer said to reporters after winning gold. “I have everything. I'm on top of the world. This is the best day.” 

Her husband and fellow Team USA fencer, Gerek Meinhardt (Notre Dame, fencing), was thrilled to see his wife win gold. To him, Kiefer winning gold fulfilled his Olympic dream. 

"I was here screaming,” he said. “My voice is kind of gone from cheering her on yesterday and going crazy. It was incredible.”

The men’s foil team was awarded bronze after winning against Japan 45-31 in the bronze medal bout.

"It is hugely special, especially bouncing back from a tough loss,” Meinhardt said to reporters. “The dedication we showed gave us a lot of confidence today. We ended the day without any regrets and we are happy to be going home with bronze.”

Women’s foil finished fourth after losing to Italy in the bronze medal bout. Team members were proud of how hard they worked but ultimately disappointed in the outcome.

"We lived like a family for five months and of course we wanted that medal,” Kiefer said. “We've had such a fulfilling, beautiful journey that none of us knew was possible. We've taken our fencing to places that I think are incredible. I am filled with pride for my teammates. It hurts right now, but we left it all out there. We have no regrets whatsoever.”

Mariel Zagunis (Notre Dame, fencing) placed fifth (losing in the quarterfinals) in the women’s saber event.

Kelley Hurley (Notre Dame, fencing), Eli Dershwitz (Harvard, fencing), Nicole Ross (Columbia, fencing) and Nick Itkin (Notre Dame, fencing), were eliminated in the round of 16 in their respective individual events.

Itkin, who debuted in his first Olympics, gained valuable experience although he didn’t get the outcome he wanted.

"I feel like I didn't really show all of my best fencing today, but it was definitely exciting because it was my first time,” Itkin said to reporters.

Women’s epee placed fifth, women’s sabre placed sixth and men’s epee finished ninth after losing to Japan in the first round.


Talia Massi, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Talia Massi is a journalism student at Arizona State University. This story is part of a collaboration between the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.