Nzingha Prescod, Olympic Fencer

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Photo: Andy Miah/ Flickr
Media Outlet: the New Yorker

Alexis Okeowo wrote for the New Yorker about the Olympics and Nzingha Prescod: 

On a recent weekend, Nzingha Prescod was practicing at the Fencers Club, in Manhattan, on West Twenty-eighth Street. She moved lightly, jabbing her foil in the direction of her coach, Buckie Leach. “When she’s patient, she’s amazing,” Leach said. Prescod was headed to the Olympics the following week. The first American woman to earn a gold medal in foil at the Grand Prix, in 2013, and the first African-American woman to win an individual medal at the Senior World Championships, in 2015, she was hoping to repeat her success in Rio.
“Nice and easy,” Leach said as they tapped foils.
“I think I tend to go too fast most of the time,” Prescod said.
Prescod is petite and compact, and has a curly bob with blond tips. She grew up in the Flatlands area of Brooklyn. (“No trains go out there,” she said.) Her mother, a single mom who worked as a lawyer for the city, enrolled her in a battery of after-school programs—ballet, piano, tennis, gymnastics, karate, swimming—to keep her busy. When Prescod was nine, her mother discovered the Peter Westbrook Foundation, a program run out of the club in Chelsea, which teaches fencing to kids from disadvantaged communities and covers many of their fencing expenses.


Alexis Okeowo was a Class of 2016 & 2017 New America Fellow. She is the author of A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa and a staff writer for the New Yorker.