Keeth Smart is flying to New York on Monday to begin his new life at Columbia Business School. He is carrying an Olympic silver medal for fencing.
In addition to winning the silver medal Sunday in men’s sabre, ending with a 45-37 loss to France, the United States won five other medals here. The women, among them Smart’s sister, Erinn, won a silver medal in foil, and they also won a bronze in sabre.
“This is the greatest performance in American fencing, and I am proud to be part of it,” Keeth Smart said.
In the first round of team competition Sunday, Smart went last, with the Americans trailing Hungary, 40-36. He then outpointed Zsolt Nemcsik, 9-4, to allow the United States to advance. In the semifinals, the Russians held a 40-35 lead, but Smart outpointed Stanislav Pozdnyakov, another experienced fencer, 10-4, to give the United States a 45-44 victory.
“Keeth Smart is our hero,” said James Williams, another American fencer. “He had those two losses in Athens, and he was so brave today.”
Smart, who turned 30 on July 29, is a graduate of St. John’s University. He grew up in Brooklyn and was attracted to fencing when his father, Thomas, read that Peter Westbrook, a 1984 bronze medalist, was running a program for city children. Erinn Smart, now 28 and a graduate of Barnard College, followed her brother into the sport, as New York became a magnet for young fencers.
The women have made more of a mark than the men. In 2004, Zagunis won the gold medal in women’s sabre, and Jacobson won a bronze. But Keeth Smart has been the leader of this generation.
“People don’t realize how much he brought to fencing,” said Tim Morehouse, another New York fencer who was part of the silver-winning team Sunday. “This is a coming-out party for U.S. fencing. We never did anything before.”
Congratulations Keeth and Erinn!