Kwag fences her way towards Rio
Published 18 March 2016 (AEDT)
FENCING: High school student Alicia Kwag has been balancing her sporting ambitions with text books for as long as she can remember.
But the stress will be worth it for the 16-year-old if she can realise her Olympic dream and be selected for the Rio 2016 Games.
The foil fencer said it’s been a balance since she took up the sport at age six.
“Training and school definitely aren't a good mix. But my teachers support me with me school work when I'm a bit behind or not able to attend classes and they are also supportive with my fencing as well, although they don't know much about the sport,” Kwag said.
The Brisbane resident only picked up the sport because her Mum was convinced it would help her make friends.
“I started because Mum wanted me to join in with friends and overcome my shyness. We lived across the road from a place with fencing – and that was that.
“I really hated it when I started… but I won my first competition at age six and then I just wanted to keep going and keep winning.”
So far she nominates the 2015 World Championships as her career highlight. Kwag put on a strong performance at the event in Moscow, Russia, to finish in a fantastic 45th position against the best athletes in the world.
Currently doing her final two years of school over three years, Kwag has found the time to be able to travel to Sydney to train over the past few months.
“In preparation for trying to qualify I have been travelling down Friday midday to train with the state squad. Then I usually have a private lesson with the head coach of the squad on Saturday and then I go home.”
Kwag will travel to Bourges, France next week to compete at the U17 World Championships where she hopes to secure as strong as her last appearances at the same championships.
“It’s my last year so I want a good result from the competition, I want a career highlight.”
After the U17 Championships the Asian/Oceania zone Olympic qualifying competition will be held in Wuxi, China.
While Kwag’s selection for the qualifying competition is yet to be confirmed, she’s expected be the top ranked Australian woman in foil and therefore awarded a spot at the competition.
Australian Fencing Federation Director Evelyn Halls said the Olympic qualifier will be the last chance for Australian fencers to secure their spot at Rio.
"The competition involves one athlete from each country which has not already qualified a fencer in the relevant weapon through prior events," Halls said.
"Alicia needs to finish in the top three in China to qualify for Rio - if she does, she will be the youngest fencer ever to represent Australia at the Olympics.”
Kwag is hoping her tactical skills will give her an advantage to qualify, and then hopefully at the Games.
“I think my best skill would be my tactical skills. Although not all my tactical skills are perfect or as great as other fencers, I still think that I get my head around using different tactics in different situations quite well.
“Tactical skills are a really essential part to competitive fencing as they are the strategies used by a fencer to beat their opponent by coordinating blade work and footwork.”
She’s excited by the prospect of wearing the Australian Team uniform in South America.
“It would be really exciting and such an honour for me to be able to represent my country at the Rio Olympic Games. Because going to the Olympics as an athlete may be seen as a 'once in a lifetime chance' and I'll take every opportunity for me to be able to qualify for Rio.
“Other than qualifying and competing in the Olympics, wearing the green and gold would be the next most exciting thing.”