South African fencer, Juliana Barrett, fresh from her bronze medal at the African Zonal Championships earlier this year, is off to a strong start this season in individual completion in the United States.
The 19-year-old ep├®e fencer, pictured right, has just been promoted to the Northwestern University women’s fencing travel team.
Since arriving back at school in Chicago, second year student Barrett has medalled at two regional competitions in Illinois, (the Burton Open and the Remenyik Open, coming third and eighth, respectively) and finished 16th in a North American Cup (NAC).
Barrett came to notice in Ohio at the North American Cup, where she came 16th out of 170 top-ranked (USFA Division I) senior women’s Ep├®e competitors. Among those she defeated to reach that impressive result was the current top-ranked US junior women’s ep├®e fencer, whom Barrett beat 15-11.
While serving primarily as a national ranking tournament for US fencers, the event included several Olympian medal holders and entrants from Italy, Poland, Hong Kong, Canada, and Brazil, as well as Barrett standing up for South Africa.
On the basis of her strong showing, Northwestern University┬ácoach Laurence Schiller appointed Barrett to NU’s 3-woman ep├®e travel team. The NU Wildcats will face some 40 other university teams during the varsity season, which runs January to March.
Training at the gym 15-20 hours a week, scholar-athlete Barrett must manage her time rigorously to maintain an A-minus average. She has got used to studying on the red-eye flights and goes back and forth to South Africa.
Her next stop will be the Gauteng Open on 7 December for a mandatory competition to maintain her South African ranking, then back to Chicago with final exams beginning on 9 December).
Now the political science major will have to get her reading done on the team bus as it takes her to National College Athletic Association (NCAA) competition in such far-flung locales as Palo Alto, California, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Picture: Wessel Oosthuizen