Mariel Zagunis, Fencer
Name: Mariel Zagunis
Event: Olympic Sabre Fencing
Awards: 2008 Olympic gold medalist (individual), 2008 Olympic bronze medalist (team event), 2004 Olympic gold medalist (individual), 2009 World Champion, 2010 World Champion, 2000 & 2005 World Championship (team event) 2001 & 2005 Junior World Champion (individual).
Words to Sweat by mantra: “Stay on target”
Finding Training Balance
Cross training is very important for any competitive fencer. Fencing is all side-specific, so the dominant side is very over developed comparatively. With one side over developed and certain muscle groups stronger than others, it presents a higher risk of injury. When I cross train, I work on my upper and lower body, making sure to balance out my muscles and my entire body (as much as possible, anyway). This way I become a complete athlete, not just a fencer with unbalanced musculature. Some exercises I do include a lot of quickness and reaction drills, training exercises with resistance bands and plyometrics. It is most important to be fast and strong, and able to move well, be coordinated, and change direction quickly.
Lunge Like You Meant It
There are a ton of explosive movements in fencing, and a lot or quick changes of direction. It is important to have quick reflexes and a very strong and powerful lower body. Overall in my cross training I try to focus on speed and power, like ladder drills or exercises with resistance bands. My cross training involves fencing and non-fencing specific movements so I can get a balanced, total body work out. I know that as long as I am feeling fresh and strong during my training, it will help me feel light and quick in competition as well.
Fencers Just Want To Have Fun Too
Usually during our major competitions, there is a call room that all fencers must report to before walking out to compete. So there are always a bunch of fencers, referees, organizers, etc hanging out in this room and we are usually talking and joking around while waiting for our names to be called out for the bout. It’s a quick change of pace once your name does get called, though, because things go from fun and lighthearted to serious game-time mode. The spectators never get to see us joking around back in the call room, so I’m sure some people assume that all fencers are way too serious when we are at a competition!
If you have ever watched a fencing video, you have probably noticed that we yell. A lot. And that it is really loud and intense! The reason fencers do that is not totally intentional, but just because you are in the moment and very emotional and are exerting a lot of energy, etc. Although we don’t laugh about it in the moment, my teammates and I sometimes make fun of each other for our yelling, because every now and then a really crazy sound or reaction might come out of us! Every body does it, and so we all make fun of each other if one of us goes over the top with our emotions/reactions!
Don’t Fence Mariel In