|Residence:||Ottawa, ON & Calgary, AB|
|Club:||Ottawa Fencing/Empire United Fencing|
If there is one athlete that I would always bet would ace the marshmallow test, it’s Kelleigh Ryan. No athlete better exemplifies that a consistent and committed work ethic will one day bear fruit. What makes the Ottawa Hall of Fame athlete’s journey all the more salient, is that it all started because she didn’t like karate…
At age 10, Kelleigh, an Ottawa native born to parents Robert Ryan and Rianne Mahon, decided to buck the trend and move from karate to fencing. But before long, it was motivation for personal growth and learning that overshadowed her dislike of karate and kept Kelleigh in the sport. Her natural affinity for athletics and training bolstered her love of fencing and helped be active and playful when others were already winded. Even today, Kelleigh admits weight training is just as fun for her as bouting, and it’s not hard to imagine why the perennial student (graduate of three degrees in sociology, political science and kinesiology) decided to stake her future on personal training, having started her own company, Lion Ethik (lionethik.com). Working with her coach and husband Alex Martin at Epic Fencing, Kelleigh has been able to integrate her love of conditioning to the club culture and share it with a new generation of fencers.
Despite her enthusiasm, it took Kelleigh many years to achieve international success as a fencer, missing out on Cadet and Junior World Championships, but continuing to work with the ultimate goal of an Olympic medal always in sight. And within time, Kelleigh went from an a notable addition to an integral part of the current women’s foil team, who went on to win Pan American Games (Toronto, 2015) and Championships (Asuncion, 2022) and regularly achieves top 8 results at world events. Her personal results lack no luster either, with a top 8 finish at the 2022 Tokyo Games and the 2022 Tauberbischofsheim World Cup. What’s more, her slow but steady rise is something she wears with pride, inspiring those around her by recounting, as did Michael Jordan, that “I have failed over and over and that is why I succeed.”