Lee Kiefer made history on Sunday in Tokyo becoming the first-ever American man or woman to win individual foil gold at the Olympic Games. The three-time Olympian triumphed in the women’s foil final with a 15-13 victory over defending champion Inna Deriglazova of the Russian Olympic Committee team. After landing the final point, Kiefer, 27, took off her mask and yelled, “Oh my god!” while celebrating the monumental moment. But that’s not all Kiefer has to celebrate. The world-class athlete will soon graduate med school to become a doctor—a reminder that so many Olympic athletes maintain full-time jobs and live a second life in addition to competing on a global stage.The medal has been many years in the making for Kiefer, who placed fifth at the 2012 London Games and finished 10th at the 2016 Rio Games. A four-time NCAA champion while at Notre Dame, Kiefer’s best performance on the Olympic stage came together while balancing the demands of her third year of medical school at the University of Kentucky.“It’s such an incredible feeling that I share with my coach, I share with my husband, with my family, just everyone that’s been a part of this,” Kiefer told ESPN while wearing her gold medal. “I wish I could chop it up in little pieces and distribute it to everyone I love.”Kiefer considered retiring from the sport after the 2016 season, but when she reached number one in the world during her senior year and received support from advisors at UK Med School, she decided to continue fencing while pursuing her goal of becoming a doctor.As Kiefer shared in an interview with USA Fencing, navigating both demanding pursuits hasn’t been easy, especially with the pandemic raging last year. She and her husband, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Gerek Meinhardt, built a fencing strip in her parents’ basement when their training club closed. After completing seven months of her third year of medical school—which involved 6:45 a.m. starts at the hospital, studying late at night, plus attending class lectures and fencing practice when time allowed—Kiefer took a leave of absence to focus on preparing for Tokyo. All of the effort came to a stunning finale and clearly paid off. “I think it came down to having a really good support system,” she told USA Fencing. “Obviously my husband, my family, and my teammates—the people who I’ve worked up to this Olympics with. I think the fact that we all shared this journey and this goal motivated me to make the final push.”Kiefer is just one example of several athletes who often balance school, day jobs, and parenting while chasing their Olympic dreams. For example, while representing Colombia at the 2016 Olympics, rugby star Nathalie Marchino worked as a sales account manager at Twitter and took a five-month leave of absence to prepare for Rio. When she’s not racing on the track for Team Canada, Lanni Marchant works as a criminal defense attorney for a law firm in the United States. Marchant finished 25th in the 10,000 meters and 24th in the marathon at the Rio Games. And three-time Olympian Ana Rente balances her career as a doctor while training on the trampoline.Kiefer’s gold medal brings the U.S. total medal count to 10 as of Sunday. The U.S. is second only to China, who currently leads the medal count with 11 total. Related:
The U.S. women’s national soccer team continued to fight on and off the pitch this week.Two days after the reigning World Cup champions suffered a deflating 3-0 loss to Sweden, the players filed an appeal Friday to overturn a 2020 decision against their equal pay lawsuit. On Saturday, the team rebounded with a 6-1 victory over New Zealand, breathing new life into the Americans’ Olympic gold medal pursuit in Tokyo.With two goals in the first half—a lead kicked off by Rose Lavelle who scored her first Olympic goal in the 10th minute—and four goals in the last 45 minutes of play, the U.S. dominated the match against New Zealand on Saturday in Saitama, Japan.The win was much needed after the U.S. women’s soccer team was outplayed by Sweden—the same squad that knocked out the Americans in the quarterfinals of the Rio Games—during its opening match on Wednesday. In the process, the Swedes snapped Team USA’s 44-match unbeaten streak.“We got our a**** kicked, didn’t we. Just a little tight, just a little nervous,” forward Megan Rapinoe told NPR after the game. “We had a few chances that we could have taken better that would have shifted the game quite a bit.”The Americans, led by veteran U.S. women’s soccer team icons—including four-time Olympian Carli Lloyd—weren’t down for long. With eyes on becoming the first women’s team to ever take Olympic gold after winning the World Cup, while making history as advocates for pay equity, the U.S. bounced back in a big way.On Friday, the 28 current and former U.S. players announced that their legal team had filed an appeal to overturn Judge Gary Klauser’s May 2020 decision, which ruled there was no basis to prove the players’ claims that the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) financially discriminated against the women based on their gender. Klauser said the women played more games and made more money than their male counterparts and had rejected a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) where they would have the same pay structure as the men’s team in favor of a different CBA, CNN reports.In response, the players said they had not been offered the same CBA as the men’s team. They claimed Klauser’s ruling was “based on a flawed analysis of the team’s compensation, despite the abundant evidence of unequal pay,” according to a statement shared with CNN.“If a woman has to work more than a man and be much more successful than him to earn about the same pay, that is decidedly not equal pay and it violates the law,” player spokesperson Molly Levinson told CNN. “And yet, that is exactly what the women players on the U.S. National team do—they play more games and achieve better results in order to be paid about the same amount as the men’s national team players per game. By any measure, that is not equal pay, and it violates federal law.”The team’s victory on Saturday means the U.S. still has a shot at winning gold. The Americans are scheduled to face Australia on Tuesday in Kashima, which will conclude their Group G play. For reference, there are 12 nations divided into three groups (labeled E-G) of four teams each who will play these preliminary games in a classic round-robin style. The top two teams from each group will automatically advance to the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament.Related:
Two days before the opening ceremony at the Olympics, Quinn made history as the first openly transgender athlete to compete in the Games. On July 21, the OL Reign soccer star played in Canada’s match against Japan, which resulted in a 1-1 draw in Tokyo.Quinn, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, embraced the milestone on Instagram while also acknowledging there is much more work to be done for trans inclusion in sports and beyond. The midfielder came out as transgender in September 2020.“I feel proud seeing ‘Quinn’ up on the lineup and on my accreditation. I feel sad knowing there were Olympians before me unable to live their truth because of the world,” Quinn, 25, wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday. “I feel optimistic for change. Change in the legislature. Change in rules, structures, and mindsets. Mostly, I feel aware of the realities. Trans girls being banned from sports. Trans women facing discrimination and bias while trying to pursue their Olympic dreams. The fight isn’t close to over….and I’ll celebrate when we’re all here.”Quinn’s call for action comes at a time in the U.S. when anti-trans legislation is on the rise. In June, the governor of Florida signed a law banning transgender girls from joining girls’ sports teams in schools and colleges. The law is one of 13 anti-trans bills conservative U.S. lawmakers have passed this year, and one of more than 110 proposed bills, according to The Guardian.At the same time, though, there have been some steps toward progress in sport. New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is also slated to make Olympic history as the first openly transgender athlete at the Summer Games on a team that matches her gender identity when she begins competition in the women’s 87+kg weight class on August 2. (According to NBC Sports, transgender women have been eligible to compete at the Olympics since 2004, and the International Olympic Committee most recently updated its guidelines for inclusion in 2015.) Over 157 LGBTQ+ athletes will participate in the Tokyo Games, a huge increase from the 56 who competed in 2016 and the 23 in 2012, GLAAD says. Since coming out last fall, Quinn, who helped Canada win bronze in the 2016 Games, has been a vocal advocate for increasing acceptance and support for everyone in the trans community.“I want my story to be told because when we have lots of trans visibility, that’s where we start making a movement and start making gains in society,” they told OL Reign in a blog post shortly after the announcement. “At the same time, I think there’s such a responsibility for me to uplift the voices of other marginalized trans folks in order to diversify the number of trans stories that the general audience is hearing.”As for what comes next? Quinn and the rest of the Canada Women’s National Team are scheduled to play Chile on July 24. Here’s how to watch all the Olympic events, whether you’re looking for television or streaming options. You can also follow @SELFmagazine on Instagram for highlights, recaps, and updates throughout the Games. Related:
In the 200-meter and 400-meter frees, the five-time Olympic gold medalist is ranked second in the world this year behind Australian rival Ariarne Titmus. She is ranked first in the 800 meters and 1500 meters—an event that is making its debut at the Tokyo Games, and one which Ledecky dominated at the trials with a world-leading time of 15:40:50. She is poised to win gold in both long-distance disciplines.Manuel and Ledecky will be representing a U.S. team that includes 11 teenagers (the most teenagers on the team since 1996), in a move that reflects a generational shift as the national team adjusts to a Games without Michael Phelps—the first since 1996, The New York Times reports.Watch Manuel, Ledecky, and the rest of Team USA compete during the Olympic swimming session from July 24 through August 1.9. Softball returns to the Games with the U.S. on the hunt for gold.After 13 years, softball is finally making its return to the Olympic program. The U.S. roster includes two veterans who contributed to the country’s podium finishes in 2004 and 2008. Cat Osterman, the 38-year-old left-hander who led Team USA to gold in 2004, is returning along with Monica Abbott, who competed on the 2008 team that lost to Japan in the gold medal game. Before that match-up, the Americans outscored opponents 122-4 and won two gold medals during their 22-game Olympic winning streak that started in 2000.Catch Team USA’s gold medal pursuit, which starts during the six-nation group stage on July 21. The gold medal game is scheduled for July 27.10. The U.S. is looking for a cycling sweep.Team USA has a lineup with the potential to win gold in all four women’s cycling disciplines: BMX, mountain, road, and track. In BMX, the U.S. is bringing contenders Hannah Roberts and Alise Willoughby. Kate Courtney will take on the mountain discipline, and Chloe Dygert will compete in road and track. The U.S. has never won an Olympic women’s title in BMX, mountain or track, but that could change this summer, according to NBC Sports.Watch the Americans attempt to make history starting on July 25 with the road discipline. The mountain bike competition will begin on July 27, BMX is scheduled for July 28, and track begins on August 1.11. Bird and Taurasi could make history with five Olympic gold medals.Sue Bird, 40, and Diana Taurasi, 39, are leading U.S. women’s basketball into Tokyo, where the national team aims to win its seventh consecutive Olympic gold medal. Both athletes represented the U.S. in 2000 at the Sydney Games and have starred on the court ever since. If Team USA wins this summer, Bird and Taurasi will become the first basketball players of any gender to win five Olympic gold medals.Watch the veterans lead Team USA once again during the women’s basketball tournament, which begins on July 26.12. Adeline Gray is out for redemption in Tokyo.After having her two-year winning streak snapped in the quarterfinals of her Olympic debut in Rio, Adeline Gray, 30, has made an inspiring comeback to women’s wrestling after a tough year and a half.In March 2020, the five-time world champion fractured her ribs at the Pan American Championships in Ottawa, which took place at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Olympic postponement gave the American record-holder more time to heal and recover from her injuries, just in time to make another Olympic team. At the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in April, the veteran champion scored 20 points in less than three minutes to dominate the match against 17-year-old challenger Kylie Welker.Watch Gray attempt to win her first ever Olympic medal during the women’s wrestling session, which starts on August 1.Related:
After the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic games due to the ongoing global pandemic, the world’s best athletes are finally ready to compete. That makes how to watch the Olympics a question many sports fans are wondering.For over two weeks, the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo—the 2021 edition—will feature exciting storylines, including teams out for redemption, stirring individual performances, and highly anticipated match-ups between athletes out for gold with an extra year of preparation to drive them forward.Will Team USA surpass the 46 Olympic gold medals earned in Rio? Can any rival country come close to gymnastics-favorite Team USA, whose star athletes are competing for a third team gold medal? How will Allyson Felix, the most decorated track and field athlete of all time, fare in her fifth and final Olympic Games—and her first as a mom? Will the new Olympic sports for 2021 be just as exciting as they’re hyped to be? And among all these can’t-miss Olympic storylines, one question continues to run through the background: How will these Games transpire differently due to the COVID-19 pandemic?Find out by watching all of the action at the 2021 Olympics this summer. Here’s everything you need to know.When to watch the OlympicsFrom Friday, July 23 through Sunday, August 8, the Tokyo Games will host 33 different sports and award medals across 339 events. The opening ceremony will begin on Friday evening, July 23 in Japan’s capital city—making that a 7:00 a.m start time for those on the U.S.’s east coast.. (Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone, so many of the events will take place during the evening in Tokyo, which will be early morning for us in the U.S.)Basketball, archery, badminton, beach volleyball, boxing, cycling, fencing, field hockey, gymnastics, handball, judo, rowing, shooting, softball, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, volleyball, and weightlifting all begin on July 23.Equestrian, sailing, skateboarding, soccer, surfing, swimming, and water polo kick off on July 24. Baseball begins on July 27, and track and field starts on July 30. Check the NBC schedule for updates on the dates and specific timing of your favorite events. If you can’t watch the action live, NBC has scheduled highlights and replays of each sport throughout the program.Where will these Olympic events take place?Most of the sports will take place in Tokyo or just outside of the capital, but some events are scheduled to be contested at venues in nearby Japanese cities.The National Stadium—the venue used as the main stadium for the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games—was rebuilt for this year’s championship. The stadium in downtown Tokyo will host the opening and closing ceremonies, track and field events, and soccer matches.Sapporo Odori Park in Sapporo, Japan, is the venue for the marathon and race walking events.