FILIPINA-American Lee Kiefer, the United States’ best bet for a fencing gold in Rio and Davao’s adopted Olympian, lost to unheralded Chinese fencer Yongshi Liu, 15-9, in the round of 16 on Wednesday to bow out of contention for a medal in the Olympics.
The world no. 3 Kiefer, daughter of a lady doctor from Davao del Norte who married an American, and teammate Nzingha Prescod had advanced to the table of 16, but uncharacteristically ended the day in ninth and 10th place, respectively.
“Not at the podium but still at the top! And yes, always number one in our hearts! Congratulations Lee Kiefer,” her Davao-based aunt Janice Bacani Carandang posted on social media after the loss.
The 21-year old Kiefer opened with a table of 32 bout against Lebanon's Mona Shaito – a former Youth Olympic Games Team member for the United States and NCAA All-American at Ohio State.
After dropping one touch early in the bout, Kiefer ripped through eight straight to take a 10-1 lead at the break before finishing at 15-3.
A quarterfinalist four years ago in London, Kiefer found herself down early in the table of 16 against Yongshi Liu, but kept her opponent within two touches at 6-4 before dropping the bout, 15-9.
“She fenced really well. I kept doing long actions and she would close me out and it was confusing me. I don’t feel like I was fencing my best, but I definitely give her credit,” Kiefer said.
The loss comes at the conclusion of a season where Kiefer stood on four international podiums – a record for any U.S. women’s foil fencer.
“You work four years to get here and you just want this to be your best tournament, so obviously I’m disappointed. I felt so strongly that I could do it and then I just mentally didn’t have that clearness and focus. I just kept rushing and I just wasn’t in control,” said Kiefer, who will return to Notre Dame late this year where she will attempt to win her fourth straight NCAA title.
“It’s just frustrating because I’m fencing one more year and I really just wanted to get a medal at these Games. I know it’s just the whole process and everything, but I think I’ve come so far in four years and then it’s just frustrating to not compete your best,” she added.