05
Feb
09

Columbia’s Williams Helps U.S. Nab Silver

Courtesy of NBColympics.com

BEIJING (AP) – There Keeth Smart was again – a point away from victory, a point away from defeat.

His American fencing teammates feared the worst.

“I think we were just bracing ourselves,” Jason Rogers said. “We were in Athens and we had two matches, extremely close, both in situations where we could medal. There was a little bit of a flashback to Athens, but I have to give it to Keeth Smart.”

In 2004, Smart was on the strip at the end of back-to-back 45-44 losses. A win in either would have given his team a medal, but instead the U.S. finished fourth. This year, Smart scored the deciding point in two 45-44 wins, and his saber team took the silver.

The U.S. lost to France 45-37 in the championship bout Sunday, but this was still the first American medal in men’s fencing since 1984 – and it capped a heartwarming tale of perseverance for Smart.

“It’s been four long years of heartache that we’ve had to relive over and over,” said Smart, who is leaving fencing to go to business school. “For us to go home with a silver medal is truly an honor.”

Smart’s heartache extended beyond sports. Both his parents died since the Athens Games, his mother, this May. He contracted a rare blood disorder earlier this year, threatening his participation in the Beijing Games.

On Saturday, his sister Erinn (Columbia ’01-BC) won a silver medal in the team foil event. Sunday was his turn: Smart, Rogers, Tim Morehouse and Columbia’s James Williams reached the podium in dramatic fashion.

For the complete release, head to NBColympics.com.

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