Don’t Fence Them Out Smart Moves In Beijing

Updated: August 4, 2008


Call them the Old Man

and Old Lady of the US

Fencing Team at the

Olympics in Beijing

Keeth Smart is now 30 and his sister Erinn Smart, 26, that makes them both OLDER than anyone else on the USA Fencing Team, and OLDER than most of those who will be Fencing for Glory from around the world in Beijing in a few days. They have both come a long way since they emerged as the teenage AFRICAN American Fencing Champs in a Sport that had long been virtually all White in the U.S.A. Except for Legendary Peter Westbrook.

Their parents up to a point get ALL the credit for turning their two kids at an early age to the Sport of Fencing. Doing so very purposely as more African Americans parents should. Meaning directing them toward “non-traditional” Sports for Black kids meaning the many Sports that are overtly or casually Racist in America.

As both Keeth and Erinn turn toward the 2008 Olympics these Games are tingled with heavy SADNESS for them. Both their parents in their 50s have died since the last Olympics in Athens when their father and mother were in the Stands watching them compete.

Here is how The Box presented

Keeth & Erinn’s 2004 Olympics

back on August 20, 2004

It made for a great story. Pure inspiration. A young Black brother and sister from Brooklyn, New York. Of all things the USA national champions in fencing. Two of the best America had ever produced. Especially Keeth.

An unprecedented pair. What a story. On a clear path to Glory in Athens. Maybe the height of Triumph. Two Gold Medals. Especially Keeth. And then Team Gold. And more Glory.

Until the Dream crashed in the shadow of Mount Olympus.

There will be no Gold.

No Medals at all to bring home from Greece.

Only Disappointment.

The Box has been Keeth and Erinn Smart’s most vociferous and frequent boosters giving them more Ink than anyone for more than a year in Box after Box. Now we can only share their Failure. The end of the Dream.

There may have been foreboding in the fact that Keeth Smart – we aren’t making this up – accepted an invitation to train with his arch rival the great Italian Champion Aldo Montano in the weeks leading up to the Olympics. Rather than stay home and drill his technique in familiar surroundings and no distractions.

Nothing like accepting an invite to come into the ‘enemies’ liar and letting him and his coaches learn all your secrets and get familiar with all your best moves. And lull you into complacency with devilishly creative faints.

Keeth Smart apparently never asked himself the Obvious Question if it’s such a good idea to train at your prime opponent’s facility just before the Olympics WHY did the Italians decide to stay home and train ???

Proven when Keeth was stunned by Montano in the sabre Medals round when the Italian scored seven unanswered points in a row completely disorienting Smart who never recovered in time and was eliminated from the competition which the Italian won for the Gold propelled by his dazzling victory over Keeth Smart to win it all in his following match.

Sister Erinn fared no better. She was eliminated in the very first round of the women’s foil competition. After miraculously battling her way on to the American Olympic team when a year ago that seemed almost impossible due to Olympic restrictions on team size and fierce competition for the one place on the team for foil for USA women. But she did it and as well became 2004 National Champion.

A fitting Cinderella story ready made to turn into Olympic Glory and even Gold only to crash ignominiously and left defeated in the dust. No where near a Medal competitor. She too spend the weeks before the Olympics traveling around Europe practicing rather than at home training at the New York Academy where they both learned everything that had made this brother and sister Champions.

But all was not lost for the Smart family.

Thursday was the men’s team sabre competition. The three man team led by Keeth Smart, and with Black teammate Ivan Lee fellow Brooklynite, their team considered one of the top contenders in the field, and many observers expected the Gold.

Keeth heroically led the team through the early rounds of the competition into a titanic struggle with the French team, one to emerge to battle the Italians for the Gold, the loser to compete for the Bronze against Russia.

It all came down to American Keeth Smart vs. France’s Damien Touya their star swordsman. It was heroic. It could not have been more were it a Hollywood movie. The match wavered back and forth as Smart fought back from a deficit and was within one point of Victory in spite of some very questionable officiating which had cost him points.

Then in the heat of battle Keeth did something you never see in controlled fencing. In the heat of this battle Keeth ran his blade clear through the palm of the Frenchman’s hand puncturing his palm and bringing their match to a temporary halt as blood smeared Touya’s white uniform.

After a ten minute delay Damien Touya bandaged and refusing to have a teammate take his place returned to score the final point over Smart 45-44 and win the match for his team.

As Keeth sat stunned to Disbelief – as you can see for yourself above – by the unexpected turn and one of the most memorable finishes to a Olympic fencing event ever.

Keeth and his team never recovered. They were later defeated by the Russians for the Bronze as France ecstatic and energized by Touya’s victory over Smart went on to defeat Italy for the Gold.

Which brings us to the End of Keeth & Erinn Smart’s Olympic Dreams.

They’ll return home with Olympics memories at least.

And one more thing.

Nightmares of what might have been.

That was then. Now both are in Beijing. Keeth Smart this time is the Captain of the USA Fencing Team. Keeth has indicated he will retire from Fencing after the Beijing Games end. His sister Erinn cannot be far behind. Both forever legendary for their success as national and international champions in a Sport alien to African Americans.

Neither Keeth nor Erinn are likely

to win any Medals in Beijing

and it is very unlikely you

will get to see any Fencing

broadcast on NBC but it

will not lessen the credit

due Keith & Erinn Smart