Fencing Summer Nationals

Zoe hits someone and scores another point !
Photo courtesy of Zoe Granizo-Mackenzie

This past summer I went to Fencing Summer Nationals in Anaheim, California. During the months leading up to Nationals,  I trained and worked out at a gym to get ready, because the competition is hard, and it takes patience, experience and a lot of serious training to do well at that level of competition. Most fencers there are very serious and go to win. I also attended many tournaments in preparation for Nationals, including competitions in New York, Boston, Canada, and Burlington, to name a few. I have also gone to a few North American Cups tournaments, which required traveling far away. The last tournament I attended was in Salt Lake City, Utah.

One of the cons of fencing is that all the traveling makes it an expensive sport. If fencers get really serious and want to compete at a national level, such competition is required. I am very serious about fencing and, as I want  get better and gain more experience, I have to go to most of the national tournaments. In order to make this possible, I have to contribute money to my parents to help pay for these expensive tournaments. It also takes a lot of time and money for me to practice, since my club and my coach are in Boston and I travel there once a week. I would go more if I could, but it takes four hours back and forth and the commute can be very tiring. In the end, all of my driving, training, and working-out really paid off at Summer Nationals.

I knew I was good enough to make the “top eight.” These fencers are awarded medals, new ratings and t-shirts that say “National Finalist.” Getting to the top eight had been one of my goals for a long time, and I was very proud of myself when I made it.  It took a lot of hard work to get there.

Zoe and her fencing coach, Daniel

I get nervous at all tournaments, but I become even more nervous at National tournaments. Sometimes I get so nervous that I just don’t want to fence anymore, and it’s hard for me to move on the strip. When I get that anxious, I try to tell myself not to care about where I place. Instead, I just to try to fence well and learn from my mistakes. That’s one of the most important things in fencing: a fencer can’t focus on where they place, but instead must focus on each bout and how they fence. Also with fencing, and in competitive sports in general, athletes usually think of their good days and bad days depending on where they place and if they are happy with that standing.

I fenced in Division Two and had a really good day. In my pool I won five matches and lost only one. A pool is where a fencer is put based on their rating, and, depending on how they do, it rates what place they are in Direct Elimination (DE). If a competitor loses their first DE, then he or she is out.

The number of levels within a Direct Elimination depends on how many fencers are competing. For example, if 64 people compete, the top 32 would compete in the next round and so on. My first DE was not that hard; it was against someone I never fenced. However, I get really nervous in every bout I fence so it’s never really easy either. In the middle of the bout, the strip I was using had problems so I had to wait about ten minutes before it got fixed, which was annoying and made me more nervous. I won by a score of 15-7. My third DE was a lot harder then all of my precious DE bouts, but I won that one too, which placed me in the top 8. Then, I fenced for top four. I lost, but it was a very close bout. The final score was 15-13. At the end of the day, I placed 5th out of 113 people overall. It was a good day, and it felt amazing to be on a National podium.

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