FILIPINO-AMERICAN fencer Lee Kiefer became the first US women’s foil fencer to earn a world No. 1 ranking after winning the gold medal at the Absolute Fencing Gear FIE Grand Prix Long Beach on Saturday.
The 22-year old Kiefer, daughter of a Dabawenya doctor Teresa Orpilla and neurosurgeon Steve Kiefer, reached the unprecedented feat with her fourth consecutive Grand Prix medal and third straight international podium finish.
The two-time Olympian moved past erstwhile No. 1 and arch-rival Arianna Errigo of Italy.
With three international titles and six medals over the last 12 months, Kiefer moved past the 2012 Olympic silver medalist. The Fil-Am foilist has an impressive record of two Olympic stints, three NCAA titles, six Pan-Am titles and now, four Grand Prix titles.
Although Kiefer and Errigo did not face each other in Long Beach, Kiefer now holds a 2-1 record against the seven-time Senior World Champion in their last three meetings, thanks to wins against Errigo at both the Shanghai and Havana Grand Prix tournaments in 2016.
“Besides an Olympic medal, obtaining a world number one ranking has always been my dream,” said Kiefer in an interview with Fencing USA.
She won a bronze medal at the Senior World Championships in 2011 as the second U.S. women’s foil fencer in history to reach the individual podium at the event.
“I remember when the U.S. Foil Team was the youngest team with a lot of talent. It was hard to image the day that we would reach our potential and be the people to beat,” she said.
“Lee now ranks No. 1 in the World! Congratulations for the historical results you did for yourself and Team USA! Thanks to Lee and everyone who helped make this happen. Its a dream come true!” coach Amgad Abd El-Halim Khazbak posted on Facebook moments after Kiefer’s triumph.
Kiefer is one of only a handful of Americans to reach the top position in the world and joins Alexander Massialas of San Francisco, California who holds the world No. 1 ranking in men’s foil.
“I am very honored to be among fencers with such amazing accomplishments. I finally feel some satisfaction with my fencing but know that I still have a lot of work to do,” Kiefer said.