Although Jan York-Romary grew up in Hollywood, she didn’t enter the spotlight one might expect. With a feint, parry and lunge, Romary fenced her way into Olympic history, a pioneer in women’s fencing and women’s athletics as a whole.
York-Romary began fencing as a child. While her father worked as a Hollywood manager, she learned the sport in Austrian director Max Reinhardt’s Dramatic Workshop – where he taught swordsmanship to actors and actresses. York-Romary took to the sport and continued to compete through her time at the University of Southern California until her graduation in 1949.
York-Romary made her Olympic debut at London 1948 as the Games resumed after World War II. It was the first of many: Every four years through 1968, York-Romary competed in the Olympics, becoming the first woman to compete in six Olympic Games. Her best finish was fourth in 1952 and 1956, which at the time tied for the highest finish by an American female fencer.