Kiefer described her mother and lola as “incredible unicorn women who always take care of me.”
Right after edging out Inna Deriglazova for Gold at the Tokyo Olympics Games yesterday, one of the first things out of her was a question: “Oh my God… what just happened?”
Well, history is what happened. Her 15-13 win in individual foil gave her the gold medal, something no American man or woman has done since the sport was added to the modern games in 1896.
Before Kiefer beat out her Russian opponent in the final, she had to go through four other opponents in the Tokyo draw. This was her third Olympics, after stints in London in 2012 and Rio five years ago.
After her win, Kiefer also asked for her husband Gerek Meinhardt, who is also a fencing athlete who is competing in Tokyo. While he won a bronze medal in Rio in 2016, he lost today in his match in individual foil.
The couple, who grew up and still live in Lexington, married in September 2019 just before the pandemic hit and disrupted the world, Olympic games included. They both competed for the University of Notre Dame in college, and are now both medical students at the University of Kentucky.
“I actually remember pulling out my computer in the middle of the night and watching my now-husband fence in Beijing 2008 (when I was 14),” Kiefer shares in a NBCOlmypics.com Q&A. I did not know him at the time nor did I even contemplate being an Olympian one day.
Kiefer’s parents are Steven, a neurosurgeon, and Teresa, a psychiatrist who moved to the States as child from Tagum, Davao. In an Instagram post, she described her mother and lola as “incredible unicorn women who always take care of me.”
On the other hand, Kiefer described her dad as her “biggest inspiration” to NBC Olympics. (There, she also shared that she loves collecting postcards and that she has a Brazilian salmon pink bird-eating tarantula named Caetano.)
The 27-year-old four-time NCAA champion took up the sport when, at six years old, she saw her father compete. A former captain of the Duke University fencing team, Steven then taught her and her siblings at the basement of their home.
In a tweet, Meinhardt says that “words can’t describe how bad she wanted this, how hard she worked, or how proud of her I am. Thank you all for the incredible words of support. We felt each one of them.”
Kiefer will go for a second gold in a few days. She will be competing in the Women’s Team Foil eventn alongside Nicole Ross, Jackie Dubrovich and Sabrina Massialas on July 29.
Banner Photo from @leetothekiefer on IG