Meet Daryl Homer, a young black fencer going for Olympic gold

Daryl Homer isn’t what you would call your typical successful young black athlete. He doesn’t dominate a sport with a ball or play anything that has to do with a basket. Those that he competes against don’t look like him and yet on the biggest stages, Homer produces his best performances.

The Bronx native is a 21-year-old two-time NCAA national title holder, three-time fencing world champion, currently ranked #1 in the US and #12 in the world, and is the youngest member of the 2012 USA Olympic Men’s Sabre Team competing in the London Summer Olympic games; and he has still yet to finish college.

With one year left, Homer has put school on hold for the time being in pursuit of his fencing career. Homer has been immersed in fencing culture since he was a kid. He started when he was 10 at the Peter Westbrook Foundation, a program focused on introducing fencing to inner city youth. As he became successful he caught the eye of an Olympic coach Yury Gelman who continues to coach him to this day.

“Fencing is definitely a culture shock,” Homer said. “But I started out fencing with 90 percent black people at Peter Westbrook.”

Homer calls himself fortunate. Growing up he had professional Olympic role models in the same training gym he was. He saw people doing the same thing he aspired to do in the future, including Keeth Smart and Erinn Smart.

The Olympic games are a dream come true for Homer because he has worked so hard to get to this point. He says he will be sure to take each moment in. “With my first Olympic games I am looking most forward to the opening ceremony and taking it all in,” Homer said. “It’s all about the camaraderie with my teammates, being around other strong athletes and growing. It’s bigger than just the game.”

In a sport with very few minorities, which is largely dominated by whites, Homer stands out and succeeds. This year he is one of four black athletes on an Olympic fencing team of 16, including two other African-American males and one African-American female.

The schedule of an Olympic athlete is packed and Homer’s is no different. Today he heads out to Mexico; by next week he will be in Chicago, only to be back in the city in a couple of weeks to compete in small competitions in preparation for the Olympic games. When he gets into his steady regimen Homer will be training for 5-6 hours a day on his technique, strength, conditioning and repetition.