Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Category: Colleges

NCAA Champion in Fencing Iman Blow on Organizing, Energizing, and Pushing to the Next Level

Iman Blow celebrates her individual victory at NCAA championship
Iman Blow celebrates her individual victory at NCAA championship

Becoming an NCAA Champion in fencing is a greater feat than most people realize. Student athletes, especially at the Ivy League level, do an incredible act of juggling seemingly impossible acts of academic achievement and athletic prowess. Iman Blow showed us how this can be possible.

Her list of achievements in fencing start with her training at the Peter Westbrook Foundation. She would go on to become part of the Cadet World Championship Team in 2014, then the Junior World Championship teams in 2015, 2016, and 2017, bringing home three Silver medals in the team event and a Bronze in the individual competition. As part of the Columbia University Fencing Team under the guidance of Michael Aufrichtig, Iman has continued to excel. She is the 2018 NCAA Women’s Foil Champion and is an NCAA National Team Champion in both 2016 and 2019. She is currently participating in the Olympic qualification process, with hopes of making it to Tokyo in 2021.

Iman Blow is a foilist who has forged her own way in fencing. She is both a powerhouse fencer and a powerhouse student, a remarkable athlete and a relatable young woman. More than anything, what we find extraordinary about her is the grounded nature with which she views both her success and how she has gotten there. Iman lays out each step she has taken to lead her to the doorstep of the Olympics, and she does so in a refreshingly accessible way.

Iman is generous in her zeal for the sport of fencing, firm in her resolve to promote it. To that end, she has organized the Aspire to Inspire National College Tour, which allows middle and high school fencers to learn more about fencing in college, direct from the people who are living it – college fencers. It’s a rare opportunity that we encourage you to participate in. You can register for this series of events, which begin on July 11, by clicking on this link. Iman was kind enough to give readers of this blog a discount of 40% with the coupon code AFM-SPECIAL-40OFF

When you read this interview, you’ll find insight into Ivy League and internationally competitive fencing that is actionable and reachable.

Refreshing Olympic Parenting Insight with Cathy Zagunis

Ed Korfanty, Mariel Zagunis and Cathy Zagunis in the Oregon Fencing Alliance
Ed Korfanty, Mariel Zagunis and Cathy Zagunis

The dream of the Olympics is something that every fencer and every fencing parent thinks of at some point. It is a big dream, maybe a romantic dream, and definitely a far away dream for most fencers and their parents. 

Cathy Zagunis is the mother of the most decorated American fencer in the history of our sport, sabre fencer Mariel Zagunis. Mariel is a four-time Olympian, with individual gold in both Athens and Beijing, and team bronze in Beijing and Rio. She was the Olympic flag bearer at the Opening Ceremonies in London, though she just missed the podium with a fourth place finish. At the World Championships, Mariel has won four gold, five silver, and four bronze medals in the last twenty years. Recently, she was inducted into the FIE Hall of Fame. She is a fencer with longevity and vision, and when you talk to her mom you can see where she gets it from.

Since 1998, Cathy has been the Director of Programs at the Oregon Fencing Alliance in Portland. She herself is an Olympian, having competed in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal as a rower. She’s also a National Champion in rowing.

What we learned from powerhouse fencing mom Cathy Zagunis in this interview is that these things are not as far away as they feel. Cathy is a parent who is grounded in the support of her children and the unconditional love she has for them. We found her to be the opposite of a tiger mom. In this interview, you’ll get some refreshing parenting insight that might change the way you think about what it means to parent a champion. (Hint: the secret isn’t pushing your child harder).

Don Anthony, President of USA Fencing on COVID-19, College, and the Future of Fencing

Donald Anthony, Jr, President of USA Fencing and Alisher Usmanov, President of FIE
Don Anthony with FIE President Alisher Usmanov

In a time when things are constantly changing, one thing that remains constant is the sport of fencing. During this time, we have been honored to be able to sit down for a Zoom interview with the indomitable Don Anthony, president of USA Fencing, Vice President of the International Fencing Federation, and head fencing coach at the Ohio State University. He’s a man who has a long history of success on and off the strip, as a former championship fencer and a highly successful businessman. He has the kind of credentials and success that put him comfortably among the leaders in American fencing.

What you’ll get from Don in this interview is some true and fascinating insight in this global pandemic, from the standpoint of fencing. It’s a moment of clarity for us in what are undeniably uncertain times. There are not easy answers presented here, but rather a pragmatic and realistic approach to what the impact of COVID-19 can and might well be on college fencing, training, fencing clubs, and beyond. 

Don Anthony, thank you so much for this remarkable conversation. It is an important part of the wider conversation that we must have as a fencing community.

An Interview with USA Fencing’s Don Anthony

Igor – It’s a pleasure seeing you. Thank you so much for your time. It’s a big honor. Please tell us first of all how you are doing?

Don Anthony – It’s a pleasure seeing you too. We’re all doing fine, we’re quite well. I thought I was going to have a lot of down time, but I haven’t had any downtime. It’s been just video and conference calls, just managing the changing environment. From that perspective, it’s not been what I thought.

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