Kim qualifies for Junior Olympics fencing team

Using+the+weapon+of+her+choice%2C+the+foil%2C+Kim+practices+with+a+teammate.+

Submitted by Claire Kim

Using the weapon of her choice, the foil, Kim practices with a teammate.

Speed, strength, precision and masterful skill. All of these elements come together to create the unique art of fencing. However, many students don’t know much at all about the sport, or that St. Paul Academy and Summit School has produced talented fencers like sophomore Claire Kim, who just qualified for the 2022 Junior Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A fifth grade summer camp marked the beginning of Kim’s love for fencing, and when she was eligible to join the SPA team in seventh grade, she immediately took the opportunity. Kim said, “Honestly, I didn’t really like [being on the team] then, just because everyone was older and scarier and I didn’t really know many people.” But then, after sticking with it, Kim realized how great it was to train and improve alongside her teammates, conditioning and completing drills.

Fencing is a smaller sport in both the SPA community and beyond, but Kim argues it has a lot to offer. “Once you join, there’s a lot to try, because there are three different weapon types,” she said. These three are called foil, épée and sabre. The differences between the blades are their physical composition/weight, as well as where on the body one can strike with them. For example, the foil (Kim’s weapon of choice) has a maximum weight of 500 grams (around 1.1 pounds) and can only be used to strike the chest area.

It’s good to keep going with something just for a little bit more even if you want to quit, because usually there will be something that’ll make it a little bit better.”

— Claire Kim

Kim would not have been able to learn the ins and outs of the sport without the support of her teammates, who she has gotten to know well over the past several years. Their bonding time during bus rides and while setting up for tournaments have been valuable for Kim. “The people on [the school team] are really fun to be around, and I guess the sport is pretty small, so you get to know a lot of people pretty well,” she said.

One of the most important lessons Kim has learned while fencing is that, “It’s good to keep going with something just for a little bit more even if you want to quit, because usually there will be something that’ll make it a little bit better.” This certainly applies to her own fencing journey, as her hard work paid off, and she now has the chance to compete against other skilled fencers in Utah this February. Though qualifying for the Junior Olympics was not an original goal of hers, the satisfaction of Kim’s accomplishment was certainly special and worthwhile.