Georgia Kollias ’17
Maia Weintraub is taking the fencing world by storm! The 13 year old, who fences foil for the Fencing Academy of Philadelphia (F.A.P) under coach Mark Masters, has recently made Team USA as the youngest member in history. She travels all around the globe to compete against some of the top fencers from Hungary, Italy, France, and other countries. I was recently given the opportunity to sit down with the young athlete and ask her a few questions.
When did you start fencing and why?
Maia Weintraub: I started fencing when I was eight, and I started because my uncles fenced when they were in college.
What’s your training schedule like?
MW: I practice on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, travelling up to Philadelphia and New York. Saturdays and Sundays are usually reserved for tournaments.
Your schedule seems pretty full. What do you like to do in your free time when you don’t have practice?
MW: One of my favorite things to do in my free time is hanging out with my friends.
What are your top 3 tactics?
MW: My top 3 tactics are probably ballestra [jump lunge], counter attack [defensive move], and a beat attack.
What’s the hardest part about bouting (a bout refers to a match between two fencers in a competition; it generally denotes any combat between fencers).
MW: The hardest part in a fencing bout for me is when I’m beating my opponent, and I need to be consistent and stay ahead. It’s important to not let the opponent catch up.
What is it like being a 13-year-old fencing girls who are four or five years older than you? Does it make a difference when you fence someone your age? Would you say some of the older girls are scared of you when you fence them or do they underestimate you?
MW: When I am fencing somebody older than I am, I don’t really think about their age as daunting. It does not make me fence differently, I just fence as if they are someone in my age category, but better and stronger with more experience. Sometimes they might underestimate me if I am fencing them for the first time, but the better results you get over time, the better the reputation you get. People will know who they are fencing, and they will know that you are good, so they won’t underestimate you anymore. (Laughs) As of now I have a pretty high reputation amongst the foil fencers.
What makes foil so much better than saber and epee?
MW: Foil isn’t “better” than epee or saber, I just prefer foil because they have different rules and different tactics. I just like the game better than epee or saber (which use different targets and different weapons and strategies).
Finally, can you give some advice to all the kids out there fencing at the same competitive level as you?
MW: Some advice I would give to other kids is that you learn more about your opponent when you lose. You need to analyze the bout and write down the information on that person, so the next time you fence them you can look back at your notes and beat them. Another piece of advice is that you will have some bad days, and you will have some good days. You can’t win all the time. If you come across a bad day, and you don’t do very well, don’t let that stop you from fighting harder and continuing on.
Maia has recently returned from competing in Hungary, where she placed first in the “Kunszentmiklós Cup” competition against top fencers from 8 different countries. We wish her luck in her future endeavors and hope she will come back again for another interview!