Collegiate athletes are rarely given the opportunity to travel to a foreign country to compete.
But four members of the Ohio State’s co-ed fencing team are set to get that chance. Freshman epee Marc-Antoine Blais Belanger, freshman sabre Hector Florencia, freshman foil Maximilian Chastanet and sophomore foil Eleanor Harvey are scheduled to travel to Uzbekistan and compete from Wednesday through April 9 in the Junior World Championships.
OSU’s fencing coach of 15 years, Vladimir Nazlymov, said while the game has changed through the years, the objective stays the same.
“Fencing today has undergone a lot of change over time and has become more aggressive,” Nazlymov said. “Our goal is to recruit guys who can earn medals in the world championships. We always fight for first.”
Harvey, a native of Hamilton, Ontario, has fenced for 10 years and is set to take part in her sixth junior world championships. Harvey said she has some added pressure this time around after a high finish in 2014.
“Last year, I came in second at the Junior World Championships, so this year I feel pretty compelled to do well,” Harvey said. “My goal is definitely to medal. I’ve done one Junior World Cup this year and I came in second, so that showed me I have the ability to compete.”
Harvey said the most challenging aspect of fencing is the planning and preparation involved.
“There has to be so many things that are working for you in one day in order for you to fence well,” she said. “You have to feel really good physically, you have to be mentally focused and sharp and not distracted and you have to be thinking about the right things. It’s definitely challenging considering how many things have to be working for you to have a good day.”
Harvey added that collegiate fencing in the United States is much different than fencing in her home country of Canada.
“There are a lot more people to fence here,” she said. “University fencing in Canada is very similar to recreational fencing. If I would’ve stayed in Canada, I couldn’t have fenced at the collegiate level that I would have liked to, as I am here at Ohio State.”
The World Championships are set to be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, for the first time. The competition is expected to feature more than 1,000 athletes from countries around the world, according to the International Fencing Federation.