I’m just hours away from my first-ever fencing competition. This will be the first time I’ve ever “represented” an academic institution in a sporting event since Cross Country way back in 2009. I’m understandably nervous right now, but hopefully that will pass as the day goes on.

This is how it’s going to work: Fencers will be placed into groups of 6-8 people. The first round will involve fencing against everyone else in my group. Depending on how many bouts I win, I’ll then be given a ranking for the elimination phase of the competition. My ranking will determine who I’ll face in my first elimination bout. If I’m ranked highly, I’ll face a lower ranked opponent, and vice versa. If I win my elimination bout, I move on. If I lose, my day is done.

I have to keep my expectations in check for this. Despite my prior year of experience at Queen’s in 2009-10, I’m still very much a beginner – taking three years off robbed me of most of what I’d learned. And although I’ve generally been better than most of the true beginners at Queen’s, this is an open tournament, where I’ll have to face people with many years of experience as well as beginners. As a result, I shouldn’t expect to win very many bouts here. For the most part I’ll be facing people who I have no business scoring points on, let alone beating. And in the first elimination bout I’m likely to be facing an opponent ranked very highly. But I won’t go in with a defeatist attitude. I’ll simply do my best and have fun with it. The pressure will be on my opponents for the most part – their teams will expect them to beat me, while the same expectation will never exist on my end. Maybe I can even use that to my advantage somehow.

I’m not a competitive person by nature, so this is going to be a fairly novel experience. People are going to be taking this event very seriously, which might throw me off a bit. Ordinarily when people over-celebrate their victories I think ‘eeeeeasy there buddy, it’s not a competition’, but today that’s obviously not going to work because it is a competition. Mentally, I have to be prepared for the other guy whooping it up every time he hits me. Not letting that get to me is going to be one of my bigger challenges, as over-celebration is one of my biggest sports-related pet peeves. I must be a zen master while at the same time maintain the animal aggression that is necessary for armed combat.

My goal for this competition is going to be to win one bout in the preliminary phase, and to score at least a point in every bout. This is going to be easier said than done given the fact that I’m likely to come up against some of the better fencers in Ontario today. Nevertheless it’s an attainable goal. I think.

Wish me luck!