Liu fences at international level


Contributed by Cindy Liu

Senior Cindy Liu, left, lungs towards her opponent during her fencing match for Canada.

Anna Dong, Staff Writer

Few high school athletes have the opportunity to travel the world and compete in both national and international tournaments. For fencer Cindy Liu, however, competitions of this caliber can be a monthly occurrence.

Liu, who is a senior, has taken part in numerous U.S. and Canadian Nationals, in addition to World Cup championships, where she placed seventh last year. Liu’s success, achieved through hard work and persistence, serves as inspiration for those around her.

However, triumph, and even love for the sport, did not come instantaneously. Liu has been training since she was seven-and-a-half-years-old, when her parents first introduced her to fencing.

“When I first started it, I thought it was boring because I was just learning a lot of technique stuff,” Liu said. “I just went along with it and I didn’t really have an idea that I was going to be doing this for a long time.”

Eventually, Liu found her interest in the intellectual aspect of the sport, as fencing requires both physical and mental strength.

“Because it’s a one-on-one sport and it’s a lot of reaction, it’s not a sport like gymnastics or figure skating where you memorize something and you do it,” Liu said. “In fencing, you’re put on the spot a lot.”

Currently, Liu is a member of the International Fencers Alliance of Boston in Burlington, where she practices five to six times a week. Having private lessons is crucial, but according to Liu’s coach, Andrej Raisch, her desire to improve comes from within herself.

“She wants it. Not me, not her dad, not her mom, not her brother. It’s herself. She wants it,” Raisch said. “She’s very hardworking, and mentally, she’s very strong.”

According to Raisch, learning new technique is a vital part of training, but developing confidence as an athlete is equally important.

“Cindy learned something very new, and it’s hard to learn something new because it takes a lot of time, effort and patience,” Raisch said. “Most importantly, she started believing in herself even more. She was confident before, but then she realized that I’m a person she can trust and that’s how we built a relationship and how she improved.”

Born in Canada, Liu fences for both the U.S. and Canada for individual and team competitions. During her time in the Cadet age group for fencers under 17, Liu won Cadet Female Athlete of the Year for the Canadian Fencing Federation. Liu now competes in Junior and Senior competitions, which include fencers under and over 20, respectively.

Liu has been recruited by Harvard University to compete on its Division I fencing team for the next four years. Liu is also considering qualifying for the 2020 and 2024 Olympics, but the decision depends on factors other than her fencing abilities, according to Raisch.

“She has the potential; I believe she can become an Olympian. But, I don’t like to make promises for the future, so we have to, at one point, sit down and see if it’s possible,” Raisch said. “It’s not just the will and the talent, it’s a lot of traveling, time and energy.”

A key to Liu’s success as a fencer comes from her determination to succeed, even in moments of discouragement.

“I’m a really competitive person. I hate losing,” Liu said. “Whenever I do bad, I come back even harder because I just want to win really badly.”

According to Liu’s friend and teammate, Naomi Moindrot-Zilliox, who competes internationally with Liu on the Canadian team, Liu’s tenacity pushes others to train with even more vigor.

“When she really has something in mind, there are no limits to her will to achieve her goals. Her resourcefulness is impressive,” Moindrot-Zilliox said. “That can be an incredible driving force for all of us and it can help us find that extra bit of motivation that makes a big difference in the end. I think she’s a good example for the younger members of the team.”

Victor Ji, one of Liu’s Canadian teammates, also finds inspiration through her unwavering ambition.

“I learned from her about trying to be the best that I can be,” Ji said. “I know she trains really hard, and she has motivation and drive.”

According to Moindrot-Zilliox, Liu also contributes to the team’s success through her emphasis on a strong team morale.

“There’s an excellent team spirit, which Cindy helped build over the years, both as a roommate and in the fencing gym,” Moindrot-Zilliox said. “She’s, for instance, the one who always brings small Canadian flag tattoos that we wear on days of team events.”

For Liu, fencing competitively has helped her grow as a person, both through learning meaningful values and experiencing the world with her teammates.

“Fencing has taught me so many lessons, including how to be a good sport and how I should never give up. It’s also allowed me travel so much and make a ton of new friends.” Liu said. “It’s also taught me to never underestimate other people, but also to never underestimate my own abilities. ”