Ask an Alum: Road to Rio

Nzingha Prescod
Reuters / Mike Segar

How did you get interested in fencing? 

When I was nine, I started taking lessons at the Peter Westbrook Foundation, a New York nonprofit that seeks to expose more minorities to the sport of fencing. I didn’t like it at first, but I’m competitive by nature and I wanted to beat my sister, who also did the program. 

What does your training schedule look like now?

I’ve been training full-time since I graduated last May and am still with the same coach I had as a kid. Every day is different — a mix of physical therapy, gym workouts, drills, and sparring with partners at different fencing clubs across the city. 

What are the most important qualities in an Olympic fencer?

Confidence, discipline, and strong legs. Fencing is not an intuitive sport: you can’t just attack someone; there is a complicated set of rules. So you have to be disciplined about the rules and confident in executing them. And you squat a lot: that’s where the strong legs come in.