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Kentuckians Gay, Kiefer will be part of the Olympic spectacle, excitement in Rio de Janeiro


By Claire A. Johnson
KyForward intern

Two Kentuckians will represent the United States in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which begins Friday.

Tyson Gay, who will turn 34 during the games, will compete in the 4×100-meter in track and field. His website calls this “one last lap.”

Gay was born in Lexington and graduated from Lafayette High School in 2001. Gay then chased his sport to the collegiate level at the University of Arkansas.

Lee Kiefer, 22, was a 2012 Olympian in London in fencing and will once again represent the United States in Rio (Photo Provided)

Lee Kiefer, 22, was a 2012 Olympian in London in fencing and will once again represent the United States in Rio (Photo Provided)

According to the official website for Tyson Gay (tysongay.com), “Before the Olympics. Before 9.69 (his time in the Shanghai Grand Prix in 2009). Before becoming the fastest man in American history, Tyson Gay was a country boy from Lexington, Kentucky, who just ran for the love of track.”

Gay has World Championship experience on top of his Olympic record. He has competed four times in Outdoor Track and Field for the 100m and 200m, winning three gold medals in 2007 and one silver in 2009.

Gay ranks among the top five fastest of all time in the 100 meter and 200 meter. In 2010, he set the world record for the 200 meter for a straightaway, 19.41. The same year, Gay matched the world-leading time in the 100m as well (9.78).

Gay’s “love for speed was fostered by fierce battles with his older sister,” according to his website.

This rivalry inspired Gay to chase his fueled passion to his success, and now Rio, which he claims will be his final lap.

“There are a lot of ups and downs with track and field, but for me I had to bounce back. I’ve been working really hard. This is my last lap and I really want the world to see me in action,” Gay said on his site.

Tyson Gay (Photo from tysongay.com)

Tyson Gay (Photo from tysongay.com)

Gay is the son of Daisy Gay and Greg Mitchell and has one older sister, Tiffany. Gay also has two half-siblings, Seth and Haleigh. Gay has one daughter, Trinity.

Lee Kiefer, 22, was a 2012 Olympian in London in fencing and will once again represent the United States in Rio. Born in Cleveland, Kiefer was raised in Kentucky. She attended Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School in Lexington.

Kiefer started fencing when she was seven years old. Kiefer’s father, a fencer as a collegian at Duke, introduced Kiefer and her sister to the sport.

“We didn’t like fencing at first because the equipment is heavy for small kids, and it takes a lot of time to become decent. My dad made us stick with the sport, and it actually grew on us.”

Kiefer was part of the Bluegrass Fencer’s Club in Kentucky before enrolling at the University of Notre Dame, where she will graduate in 2017 and pursue medical school.

Kiefer won the bronze medal for individuals in 2011 at the World Championships, making her the second U.S. women’s foil fencer to win a medal at the senior world championships. Kiefer was the youngest member of the 2009 U.S. Senior World Foil Team. In 2011, Kiefer earned individual podium finishes at the senior, junior and cadet world championships, which made her at that time the only athlete in the world to do so.

“I feel very proud to represent my country. I often tear up when I hear the national anthem because I understand how much time, work and dedication it takes to get to the top of the podium,” Kiefer said.

Kiefer said she gives an immense amount of her pride to the state of Kentucky.

“I love when people ask where I am from. Many people don’t know anything about Kentucky or fencing, so they get extremely confused when I talk about both,” Kiefer said. “I think it is amazing being from a small state and competing on a world stage to show people that there is not one way or situation to become a world class athlete.”

Kiefer is the daughter of Steve and Teresa Kiefer. She has a younger brother, Axel, and an older sister, Alex.

Athlete’s statistics provided courtesy of www.teamusa.org.

Claire A. Johnson is a journalism senior at the University of Kentucky. She is from Paintsville.


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