Fil-American fencer Lee Kiefer bound for Rio Olympics after securing place in US team
Rio-bound fencer Lee Kiefer in Havana, Cuba with her parents Dr. Steve and Dr. Teresa Kiefer, coach Amgad Abd El-Halim Khazbak and boyfriend fellow Olympian Gerek Meinhardt (US men's fencing). Photo by Amgad Abd El-Halim Khazbak

FILIPINA-American Lee Kiefer clinched her second consecutive Olympic berth as the US' top women's foil fencer after finishing among the top 14 in the FIE Adjusted Official Ranking List following her silver medal finish at this weekend's La Havane Grand Prix in Cuba, the final international qualifying event for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Since there's no women's foil team event in the Rio Olympics, Kiefer, ranked sixth in the world and the daughter of a Dabawenya doctor, automatically qualified as one of the top two US women's fencers along with Nzingha Prescod, the world No.7 women's foil fencer.

Both Kiefer and Prescod were first-time Olympians for the US women's fencing team in the 2012 London Olympics. 

“My niece Lee Kiefer punched her ticket to Rio with a 15-8 win against Valentina Cipriani [of Italy] in the 64 at the Havana Foil Grand Prix. Podium finish na yan! Proud of you, Lee!” said Kiefer’s aunt Dr. Janice-Bacani Carandang in a post on social media on Sunday.

Carandang also shared that Kiefer last visited her home in Davao when she was still six years old. The 21-year-old rising fencing star is the daughter of Dr. Teresa Bacani Kiefer who married US fencer Dr. Steve Kiefer. Their younger son Axel is another fencing prospect.

Kiefer has taken this year off from her pre-med studies at Notre Dame — where she is a three-time NCAA champion — to focus on training for the 2016 Olympics and improve on her performance in the 2012 London Games, where she placed fifth as an individual while ending up sixth in the team competition.

Kiefer has been competing and excelling in international fencing competitions since 2009 when she was the youngest member of the US team at 15. She had won individual medals at the cadet and junior levels of the world championships, and made history in 2011 when she took home bronze in the senior world championships, becoming the only fencer in the world to bag medals in all levels of the world championships. 


Follow the writer on Twitter: @neilbravo