Dan Kellner started fencing in the 7th grade. He had a video game called Summer Games and had trouble figuring out the fencing part. He asked his mom about the sport so much that eventually she took him to his first coach, Ted Li. Ted was the Olympic Armourer at the time and would expose Dan to his first taste of attaining a shot at Olympic Gold. Later, Dan became Simon Gershon’s student. Where Coach Li was instrumental in teaching and perfecting Dan’s foil technique, Coach Gershon led him through the tactics of the game. The work of both coaches would lead to many successes in fencing: Silver at the National Championships in 1997, 1998, and 2000.
With such a phenomenal trajectory in the works, Dan instead hit rock bottom in 2000. He missed qualifying for the Olympic Team that year and took it really hard. It was a challenging time for him both mentally and physically: he gained weight from the lack of activity and was in a funk. But fencing called him back. A year to the day he walked out of his club for what he thought would be for the last time, he went back to Coach Gershon and started training again.
Two years later, in 2003, Dan won gold at the Pan-American Games. He earned the National Championship title in 2004 and made the Olympic Team that same year. He retired from competitive fencing in 2006 and is now the owner and Head Coach of the Brooklyn Bridge Fencing Club.
Listen to the incredible story of how Dan Kellner turned his fencing career from smoldering ashes to fiery victory. He suffered the greatest of defeats—not reaching his ultimate goal of competing in the Olympic Games—and found the strength within himself to try again. And succeeded.
What an inspiration!
Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Kellner