March 20, 2017
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — University of Notre Dame senior women’s foilist Lee Kiefer is used to being at the top.
But there were peaks even the two-time Olympian and three-time NCAA Champion hadn’t yet reached — until now.
Kiefer claimed her second FIE Grand Prix gold medal on Saturday, in the process earning a No. 1 world ranking — becoming the first American women’s foil fencer to achieve either feat.
Kiefer defeated Russia’s Marta Martynova 15-4 in the championship bout at the Absolute Fencing Gear FIE Grand Prix Long Beach over the weekend. It was her fourth straight Grand Prix medal and third consecutive international podium finish. The Versailles, Kentucky, native has won three international titles and six medals within the last 12 months.
“Besides an Olympic medal, obtaining a world No. 1 ranking has always been my dream,” Kiefer told U.S. Fencing. “I remember when the U.S. Foil Team was the youngest team with a lot of talent. It was hard to imagine the day that we would reach our potential and be the people to beat.”
The 22-year-old Kiefer becomes just the eighth American fencer to reach a No. 1 world ranking in her weapon, but the third with Notre Dame ties. Two-time Olympic champion Mariel Zagunis (women’s sabre) and 2016 Olympic team bronze medalist Gerek Meinhardt (men’s foil) have also spent time atop the world rankings.
Kiefer will return to the strip this weekend when she and the Irish compete at the NCAA Championships, March 23-26 at the Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis. Kiefer will be one of two No. 1 ranked fencers competing at the event, along with top-ranked men’s foilist Alexander Massialas of Stanford. It will be the first time that two world No. 1s will compete at the NCAA Championships.
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women's soccer, men's tennis, women's tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in mass communication, and earned her master's degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.