Academy of Fencing Masters Blog

Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Category: Interviews Page 1 of 3

World Champion Epee Fencer Gergely Siklosi’s Wise-Beyond-his-Years Advice on Mentorship and Winning

2019 Men's Epee World Champion Gergely Siklosi (Gergo Siklosi)

There is an old idea that some people are old souls trapped in young bodies. Gergely Siklosi definitely falls into that category.

At the mind blowing age of twenty-one, he won the World Championships in epee last year in Budapest. Senior Men’s Epee Fencing is not a sport of youth, not at this level, and Siklosi shows an understanding of the sport that is well beyond his years. His view of what it means to be an athlete, how fencers should train, and what it is important to focus on will take you by surprise. It definitely took us by surprise.

What you’ll find in this interview is a young man who has a firm handle on what it means to push yourself in a balanced way. He uses innovative training techniques that are accessible to every fencer, and his reasons for using them are sound. They obviously are effective!

We don’t know what the future holds for Siklosi, except to say that this is just the beginning for this bright and powerful fencer from the tiny town of Tapolca in Hungary. Whatever happens for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, we can assure you that you have only just begun to hear about this tremendous young fencer.

Read More

Six-time Olympic Champion Valentina Vezzali on Foil, Female Empowerment, and Forward Thinking

6 Times Olympic Champion from Jesi - Valentina Vezzali.  Photo Augusto Bizzi
6 Times Olympic Champion from Jesi – Valentina Vezzali. Photo Augusto Bizzi

Getting to the top doesn’t happen in isolation. Though we are all feeling the isolation right now, for fencers we know that it takes a community to create a champion. During our in-depth interview with fencing dynamo Valentina Vezzali, we dived deep into what it means to get to the top of the fencing world.

Valentina Vezzali is a champion’s champion. With six Olympic gold medals, one silver, and two bronze beginning in Atlanta in 1996, she is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished fencers in modern history. She was the first foilist ever to win individual gold at three consecutive Olympics, in 2000, 2004, and 2008. Beyond the Olympics, she holds sixteen gold medals at the World Fencing Championships and thirteen gold medals at the European Championships. Beyond fencing, she is a twice published author and served as a member of the Italian Parliament.

What comes from this interview is the importance of inclusion, of the possibilities when we pursue women’s empowerment. Vezzali is so special not just because of her skills on the strip, but also because of her vision for what fencing, and the world beyond fencing, can be if we commit to making change. A fundamental part of her story is her burning desire and her unbeatable willpower. She is driven to push her own limits, whether in fencing or in any area of her life. These are the qualities that you need to have to succeed. Don’t settle for the status quo, always strive to do better! It’s a theme that we see again and again in her words.

A special thank you to Riccardo Calvi for helping us with the translation to and from Italian.

Read More

Fighting the Demon with Fencing World Champion Nathalie Moellhausen

Nathalie Moellhausen - 2019 Women's Epee World Champion
Budapest, 15-23 July 2019 World Championships Epee Women and Sabre Men In photo: MOELLHAUSEN Nathalie Photo by #BizziTeam

“I have a demon inside of myself and when I fence, he comes out and he blocks me completely from expressing what I can do. So I came here to remove this demon.” – Nathalie Moellhausen

Who are you watching in fencing? If you are not following Nathalie Moellhausen, you are missing one of the brightest points of our sport. 

This woman is an innovator in fencing. Not only on the piste, but in the world. Her social media will make you smile and challenge you to get better. We’re serious about this one – you should follow her on Instagram just as soon as you’ve read her mesmerizing interview – @nathaliemoellhausen. She is a positively captivating figure in fencing. Besides having a personality that makes you stop in your tracks, she has the championship athleticism and prowess to back it up. World Champion level prowess.

She started her epee career representing Italy, but now represents her mother’s native Brazil. Her fencing career began thirty years ago at the age of five, and to say that she breathes the sport is an understatement. She won her first World Cup medal in 2009 with a bronze, then went on to compete at the highest level through the 2012 Olympics, where she was an alternate. After a break from competition in 2013, during which time she worked with FIE as an artistic director, she roared back into the sport in 2014 under the Brazilian flag and made it all the way to the quarter finals at the Rio Olympics.

Nathalie Moellhausen is the current World Champion in women’s individual epee, and she has already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. In this meaningful and delightful interview, she talks about the mindset of a champion, the importance of losing, and how she is working to keep the sport alive and growing. She is a global citizen, a person who is an ambassador for fencing across the world. The real deal.

Read More

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).

Read More

Candidate for USA Fencing President Peter Burchard on Fencing Clubs, Leadership, and the Importance of Being Local

Peter Burchard - Candidate for USA Fencing President

Peter Burchard is a well known name in the world of American Fencing. He’s been the head of the U.S. Fencing Coaches Association since 2014, and has a long history of working as an advocate for the sport. Just about everyone knows who Peter is thanks to his networking and work ethic. 

Since 1970, he’s been involved in fencing as a fencer, a referee, a coach, and an administrator. He’s both a licensed referee instructor and examiner. Peter is the founder of North Bay Fencing in Santa Rosa and a coach in Halberstadt in San Francisco, California, which has been his home base for fencing for many years. 

Currently, Peter is running for President of USA Fencing against the incumbent USFA President Don Anthony (you can find our interview with Don Anthony here). Peter sat down with AFM to talk about his vision for the future of American fencing, opportunities for the sport, the importance of clubs and local fencing, and much more. 

Read More

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén