Former Fencer to Represent United States in 2004 Olympics
April 27, 2004
A former Air Force Academy fencer is poised to bring home the gold when the United States fencing team competes in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece this August. Second Lieutenant Seth Kelsey qualified for the Olympics as the No. 1 men's epee fencer in the United States. He has been training for his chance at the gold since high school. Kelsey, from Brush Prairie, Wash., graduated from the Academy in 2003 with a behavioral science degree.
While at the Academy, Kelsey was both the senior national champion and the NCAA national champion, winning the men's epee title at the 2003 NCAA Fencing Championships. A four-time All-American, he was honored as the Academy's most valuable fencer three times and won the school's Outstanding Athletic Achievement Award in 2003. He has competed in 19 World Cups and was the youngest member of the 1998, 2002 and 2003 senior world teams. A world-class fencer, Kelsey enrolled at the Academy for its fencing program and the career opportunities the school offers. After graduation, 2Lt. Kelsey joined the ranks of Air Force officers who continue to train in their respective sports in the Air Force World Class Athlete Program.
"The Air Force Academy is a wonderful place for the top athletes to come to, especially in the individual sports. The tremendous support that Kelsey received from the Academy and Air Force is a major factor in his success," Air Force Academy head coach Abdel Salem said.
Kelsey is a highly motivated competitor and dedicated to his teammates. He has been working toward his spot on the Olympic team since high school (Oregon Episcopal School) when he made his first senior team. He continued toward his goal as one the Academy's top men's epee fencers. In June 2003, he captured the bronze in Havana, Cuba and again in January 2004 at Tallin, Estonia. For the last three months, he has been training with the Army's modern pentathletes at the US Olympic Training Center and formed a close bond with his teammates.
"The people I train with make this sport worthwhile," Kelsey commented. "Our friendship works toward accomplishing our great results in fencing."
When the USA fencing team enters Athens in August, Kelsey's proud family will be there to cheer them on. "My family is really proud and looking forward to seeing me in Greece," Kelsey said.
"Seth has always been a great son. His quiet nature belies the fact that this young man has a great ability to concentrate and focus on what are the most essential aspects of his life. When Seth was 13 his first fencing coach pointed this out to me," said Morton Kelsey, Seth's father. "He also told me he would make the Olympic team someday. I did not believe him at the time. I do now. I am very excited to have my son achieve his goal this year. I believe that he can now do anything he puts his mind to in his life. I am very thankful that the Air Force has given him this opportunity to train and compete at the highest level. I will be his biggest fan in Athens."
Meet the team: "The 2004 U.S. Olympic men's épée team will build on the momentum it gained from a fantastic outing at a recent World Cup event in Vancouver, Canada. The team of Cody Mattern (23, Portland, OR), Seth Kelsey (22, Brush Prairie, WA) and Soren Thompson (22, San Diego, CA) finished ninth in the Canadian event securing their place in the Olympics and giving them a great deal of confidence along the way.
On the women's side, hopes run just as high. The only women's team event to be held in Athens will be women's épée, however the US failed to qualify a women's épée team in this event. Furthermore, there will be no team event for women's saber and women's foil. However, the individual female fencers are some of the top in the world and will definitely make their presence felt in Athens," By Cindy Bent Findlay, U.S. Fencing, April 26, 2004
10 Questions for Seth Kelsey
Q1: How does it feel to be the number one men's epee fencer in the country? SETH KELSEY: It feels great to be number one in the country. After lots of hard work and dedication it is wonderful to see it pay off.
Q2: Which World Cup win meant more to you? SETH KELSEY: Beating Kim Jung Kwan from Korea to take third in Tallin, Estonia. It was the first time an American had won a medal in a European world cup for men's epee. It also was a bout that showed off my mental resolve.
Q3: Which country was the most exciting to visit this season? SETH KELSEY: Estonia was exciting to visit. You get to see the old town from medieval times and the new sections. The people were very friendly and the food was quite good.
Q4: What are your goals for the upcoming 2004 Olympic Games? SETH KELSEY: I want to win a medal in either the team or the individual event. It would be a stretch, but it is entirely possible.
Q5: What would it mean to you to bring home the gold in Athens? SETH KELSEY: To bring home the gold would be so fantastic I couldn't speak. It would change the way the world looks at American fencers. It would mean to me that despite European dominance, America now is also among the best.
Q 6: Has the opportunity of being in the World Class Athlete Program made the difference in your training? SETH KELSEY: Being in WCAP has made all of the difference in my fencing. It gives me the time to fully concentrate on training, which the other team members do not have. It takes a huge burden off of me to not have to worry so much about financial or travel arrangements. This gives me more mental energy to pour into fencing.
Q 7: What are your most memorable training (WCAP) experiences? SETH KELSEY: I train with the Army's modern pentathlon program. Each day I go to practice I see a level of dedication that is inspiring. Watching them work so hard inspires me to do my best.
Q 8: What are your most memorable Academy experiences? SETH KELSEY: Getting my class ring at ring dance and soloing in a glider plane.
Q 9: Do you have any words of wisdom for the Academy's cadets? SETH KELSEY: Remember that you need to get away sometimes. It is amazing what some rest will do for your productivity.
Q10. What do you attribute your success to? SETH KELSEY: I attribute this year's success to the World Cup experience I gathered from the last three years. The level of competition that I am competing at now, I got from my experience in previous World Cups.
Photo Caption Photograph courtesy of AP. Members of the U.S. men's and women's Olympic fencing team pose after a news conference in Atlanta, Monday, April 26, 2004.
Seated from left are Kamara James, Erinn Smart, Emily Jacobson, Sada Jacobson, and Jon Tiomkin. Second row from left are Jed Dupree, Tim Morehouse, Cody Mattern, Seth Kelsey, Soren Thompson, Keeth Smart, and Robert Largman. Third row from left are Ron Herman, Greg Chang, Jan Viviani, Ivan Lee, Jason Rogers, Dan Kellner, and Jeff Bukantz.