FIL-AMERICAN fencing sensation Lee Oropilla Kiefer’s first Olympic stint ended in the quarterfinals of the women’s individual foil event in fencing where she bowed to towering Italian Arianna Errigo, 10-15.
In a veritable David vs Goliath clash, the 5-foot-4 daughter of a Filipina doctor from Davao failed to overcome the huge edge in height and experience of the 5-11 Errigo who racked up quick points from a close start and stood her ground when Kiefer threatened to draw near.
The 18-year old Kiefer, a resident of Kentucky and fighting for the USA team in the 2012 London Olympics, was behind by a just point 4-5 in the early going but the 24-year old Italian racked up three straight to go up 8-4.
She drew close once again at 8-9 but the Italian quickly recovered her poise and strung up four straight to take a safe 13-8 lead.
Errigo, a silver medallist in the 2011 World Championships in Paris, went on to upset compatriot and reigning Olympic and world champion Valentina Vezzali in the semifinals, 15-12, but she lost to another teammate in the vaunted Italian fencing squad, Elisa Di Francesca, 12-11 in the gold medal match to settle for the silver.
Vezzali had been looking for a fourth consecutive Olympic gold when she was ambushed by Errigo.
Meantime, Kiefer’s relatives in Davao who followed her stint in the Olympics said they are proud of the achievement of Kiefer despite the quarterfinal loss.
“It’s not an easy feat, she lost to older and more seasoned opponent,” said Janice Bacani Carandang, a maternal aunt of the American fencing phenom who will still be competing in the women’s team foil event.
Kiefer, who will be joining Notre Dame varsity after the Olympics, drew a bye in the first round. She debuted in a flourish with a 15-10 win over Monica Peterson of Canada and advanced to the quarterfinals after coming from behind to beat tough South Korean Jung Gi Ok, 15-13.