Daryl Homer, the son of a single mother from the Virgin Islands who became fascinated by fencing when he saw a picture of two fencers in a children’s dictionary at the age of 5, became the first American to win a silver medal in men’s individual sabre in 112 years Wednesday night at the Olympic Games.
Homer, 26, the 2015 world silver medalist who is ranked 10th in the world, lost the gold medal match to Hungary’s Aron Szilagyi, 15-8.
Homer became the first U.S. man to win an Olympic medal in individual sabre since Peter Westbrook, who won the bronze at the boycotted 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Like Westbrook, Homer is black, a rarity in the sport. An American has never won a gold in men’s sabre.
Homer’s silver is a testament to the power of Olympic role models. A few years after he first heard of the sport, he saw a commercial in a taxi featuring two fencers promoting New York’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics.
“You put a sword in any kid’s hand, they’re going to like it,” he said.
Homer’s mother then happened upon an organization called, interestingly enough, the Peter Westbrook Foundation. The L.A. bronze medalist started the organization in the 1990’s in the hope of spreading the sport to New York-area children who otherwise would never be introduced to the sport.
All these years later, his sport had come full circle. There was Homer on his sport’s grandest stage, following in Westbrook’s footsteps, winning what would have been unthinkable for him just a decade or two ago, an Olympic silver medal.