PHIL JACOBS EDITOR
as a fencer in
rapped In Foil
ow many of us have friends or rel- ry. Because when he got to
atives lucky enough to be in At- Northwestern High School and
lanta this week for the Olympics? its fencing club, he learned that
he had been holding the
Maybe you'll be going yourself.
There is a neighbor among us weapon incorrectly.
Mr. Krieger went on to fence
who has "been to the Olympics."
at Wayne University under
Byron Krieger was hardly a coach Bela de Tuscan. He com-
spectator. Now 75 years old and peted in all three weapons: foil,
living in Southfield with his wife, epee and sabre. He captained
Ruth, Mr. Krieger was a fencer in the Wayne team and became
the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and the school's first NCAA fenc-
in the 1956 Games in Melbourne, ing champion and was named
an All-American. In non-colle-
Mr. Krieger never won an giate competition, he won 55
Olympic medal. He probably didn't state and Midwest champi-
have to. Getting there was enough. onships.
He would go on to help the
His Olympic fencing claim to fame
happened at Melbourne when he United States win the team
defeated two-time French Olympic gold medal in the 1951 Pan
gold medalist Christian d'Oriola. American Games in Buenos
Mr. D'Oriola was such a big deal Aires. These games are typi-
in his homeland that France is- cally a stepping-stone to the
sued a postage stamp in his hon- Olympics. In Buenos Aires, he
or. Can you imagine? Mr. Krieger competed in all three weapons,
fencing 113 bouts in 10 days.
"licked" a postage stamp.
The Games have left a stamp At one point, he became the
on Mr. Krieger. Every four years, only American to defeat the Ar-
just prior to the Olympics, his gentine national champion, Fe-
mind wanders back to personal ex- lix Galimi.
Mr. Krieger remembers Ar-
periences. He believes he is the
only Jew from Michigan to ever
participate in two Olympics.
"Going to the Olympics is one of Mr. Krieger's
those things that is so exciting that Achievements:
it is difficult to put into words," he
said. "Being there is magical. You Two-time Olympian
arrive in a town and you feel not Pan American Games
only your own excitement — the gold medalist
entire town is excited. The Michigan Jewish Sports
Olympic spirit is everywhere."
Hall of Fame
Byron Krieger: Remembering the Olympics.
Mr. Krieger's love for fencing is
not difficult to discover. There is a Michigan Amateur Sports Hall ofFame
Instead, I had to compete tournaments, and then you find
painting of him in his fencing uni- Wayne State Athletics Hall of Fame
in fencing exhibitions to out that you made it onto the
form on a wall in his home. There
Olympic team," he said. "It's a feel-
are medals filling a cabinet in the gentine dictator Gen. Juan Peron raise money for the team."
ing that I can't describe. And then
But on another wall in the fam- gentine fencer lost, the general got played basketball and soccer while you walk into the
ily room is the symbol of an even up and left.
With this year's Olympics in At-
When Mr. Krieger looks back at lectual sport," he said. "You place
deeper commitment. There hangs
lanta, Mr. Krieger gets really qui-
a large framed likeness of the late his career and its many awards, a great deal of effort in training et in his conversational tone and
Lubavitcher Rebbe. Mr. Krieger three stand out. Mr. Krieger was physically. But this sport offers so
says simply, "I'd love to be down
is an Orthodox Jew. He and his named to the Michigan Jewish much mentally. To win, you have
wife are among the founding mem- Sports Hall of Fame in 1986 and to outwit your opponent."
No matter where the Olympics
bers of Young Israel of Southfield.
held, the spirit, the level of
The fencing, he said was an im- of Fame in 1974, and he was one
competition is like none other.
portant part of his life. But, he em-
Though he won't be traveling to
phasizes, it isn't the most Wayne State Athletic Hall of Fame sort of "we understand what you Atlanta, Mr. Krieger is one of the
"You compete and you work select few who can say he has
When he thinks of the
It was dominant for a while. Mr.
in college and in different "been there." ❑
Krieger started fencing while at
Hutchins Intermediate School in the excitement, he remembers
Detroit. He and a friend purchased what it took to get there. And this,
foils, borrowed a library book and he says, underscores a huge dif-
ference between today'sevents and
Foil — Lightest weapon. Target is torso only
He laughs out loud when he the ones he competed in.
Sabre — Cutting motion: Anything above waste is target.
"There's corporate sponsorship
tells the next installment of "the
Epee — Dueling sword. Any place touched is OK.
how I got started in the sport" sto- now," he said. "We didn't have this.