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At nine years old, Brooklyn raised Nzingha Prescod was enrolled in The Peter Westbrook Foundation—an organization founded by the first African-American Olympic fencing medalist—which sponsors lessons for minorities.

A natural foilist (a fencer who fights with foil), Prescod set her goal in motion to become an Olympian, a standard The PWF is known to achieve. Competitive and resilient, she has defeated obstacles (including arthritis and a labrum tear in her hip) to become the number two overall ranked female foilist in the U.S.

In 2003, Prescod won her first Youth 10 national competition. And by the age of 15, she was ranked in the top five of the Senior division, among the nation’s elite and Olympic women’s foilists. In 2008 and 2009 at age 20, she also won the Cadet World Championships, along with claiming gold at the Junior World Championships (twice) and representing the United States at the London Olympic Games. Since London, Prescod has become the first American woman foilist to win a Grand Prix and the first African-American female to win a gold medal at a World Championship.

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As this year’s Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro approach, Prescod looks to embody excellence and become the role model Serena Williams has become to her throughout the course of her career.

“She’s such a champion because she looks fear in the face like, ‘I’m coming for you.’ I really admire her for that,” says Prescod. “It’s empowering for young Black girls to see me be successful at a sport that they’re underrepresented in. So my two goals are to win a medal at the Olympics and to inspire young Black girls to be fearless.”

HERSource recognizes Nzingha Prescod during Women’s History Month for being the first African-American female foilist World Champion and Olympian as she aspires to inspire young girls of color in the sport of fencing.