For Erinn Smart, fencing runs in the family. After participating in ballet, ice skating, tennis and track as a youngster, Smart began fencing at the age of 11 at the Peter Westbrook Foundation. Six months later, her brother Keeth began fencing there and nearly 20 years later, both were standing atop the medal platform at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
A 2001 graduate of Barnard, Smart was a two-time All-American for Columbia in women’s foil. Twice she reached the finals at the NCAA Championships and each time, she fell just short and gained second place. Smart did not let that derail her fencing career as she won the United States National Championship in 1998, 2002, 2004 and 2008.
In 2008, she fenced for the United States women’s foil team, capturing a silver medal in her second straight Olympics appearance.
In that silver medal team bout, the United States team defeated Hungary, which featured three foil fencers ranked in the world’s top 15. It appeared to be a daunting task for the seventh-seeded American team.
“We are usually the underdogs,” Smart noted at the time, “and sometimes the big guys fall asleep on us.” The Americans eventually beat the Hungarians, 35-33 on cumulative touches and six bouts to three overall.
After the win over Hungary, top-ranked Russia loomed ahead for the U.S. for the gold medal. Smart defeated Evgenia Lamonova, ranked 10th in the world at the time, but the Russians won six straight after that bout to capture the gold medal.
A day later, Erinn watched Keeth bring home another silver medal, fencing for the United States men’s sabre team. Erinn was one of two Columbia fencers to earn a medal at the Beijing Games, along with James Williams ’07, who teamed with Keeth Smart on the U.S. men’s sabre team.
Smart continues to live and fence in the New York area. She works in finance at Lord Abbett and mentors and volunteers young fencers at the Peter Westbrook Foundation, providing guidance to the next generation of potential Olympic fencers.