ATLANTA (WSAV) – The impulse that led Alexis Anglade to fencing is the same impulse that any pair of nine-year-olds passing two large tree branches would understand.
“Kids like to hit things and I definitely liked to hit things when I was little,” Anglade said. “I was very drawn to that aspect of fencing.”
After all, in what other sport can someone hit a sibling, like Alexis frequently does to her brother Ronald, and get a pat on the back for it?
“Before she went off to college we would fence a lot,” Ronald said. “Back in the day, she was pretty handily better than me. Now in the more recent days, as I’ve grown up, I think I’ve caught up.”
That sibling rivalry is part of what fuels Alexis, a saber fencer from Alpharetta and one of only two Georgia natives to compete on Team USA during the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“I qualified for the cadet team to go to the world (fencing championships) in Italy,” Alexis said. “And for the people who went to worlds, it was the top two from each region. I was the second member to qualify for that team from the North American region.”
Behind that youth Olympian status is a lifetime of work that few others ever get to see.
“At seven or eight o’clock in the morning, we were getting lessons in,” said coach Terrence Lasker. “We were also staying late to get those lessons in. That’s what I mean when I say she has determination.”
“I started school at, what, 8:30?” Anglade added. “So I had to come to the fencing club at 7:30 to have a lesson. I had free periods during high school, so I would come during my free periods for lessons. Practice was three to four hours each day.”
That practice focused on a lot more than just having proper footwork or quick reflexes. It’s also about keeping the mind on guard during an entire high-level match, which can be exhausting.
“If you were to just click on a YouTube video that has fencing, it might just look like a ref saying go and people flying at each other. But just like in a chess match, fencing is all about adjusting to your opponent and doing the actions that will lead you to a victory,” Ronald said.
“Now that I’m older, it’s a lot more intense,” Alexis said. “To focus and figure out how to beat my opponent is very exciting to me.”
Alexis now fences for Princeton University, where she is a rising junior majoring in international relations. She has thought about the road to the 2024 Olympics in Paris but has complicated feelings about it.
“Especially in the past year, I haven’t been as heavily focused on fencing just because there was nothing to focus on, so it definitely depends on me buckling down again and getting back into the groove of things,” Alexis said.
There are also other aspirations to consider; Alexis is considering law school after graduation in 2023. She also likes writing and playing the bass clarinet.
However, the ability to buckle down on fencing has been a constant in Alexis’ life for more than a decade, and those around her are confident she can compete at the highest level.
“She puts in so much time and so much work to be the best at her game,” Lasker said.
While Alexis tries to catch the competition ahead of her, she’ll also be getting a more direct challenge from her brother Ronald, who will begin fencing at Princeton as a freshman in the Class of 2025.