Alice Boyd represented the College in fencing for seven years, and captained the squad for three of those. She won the Auckland secondary school and U20 titles in her final two years and represented New Zealand at age group level. Here she reports on her experience as part of the 90-strong NZ team at the World University Games.
I left the college in 2014 and since then have gone onto start my Bachelor’s degree, majoring in nutrition at Auckland University. During semester one, I managed to juggle university as well as training for national competitions for fencing. I had two podium finishes at the open national events and this led to my nomination for the World University Games, held in Gwangju, Korea.
I was subsequently selected by the New Zealand Olympic Committee, along with two other Auckland fencers. Training leading up to the games was long and intense, made more challenging by end of semester exams.
I left for Singapore where my coach and I met with some New Zealand fencers who were competing at the Asian Senior Championships. For a week, I trained at the national fencing centre in Singapore, fencing against some of the world and Asian champions from countries like Korea, China, Japan, Kazakhstan and Chinese Taipei. The experience and confidence which I gained through this training changed the way in which I fenced, becoming more aggressive and confident. During this week, I had lessons from one of the national coaches from Kazakhstan.
We then travelled to Seoul, where we were met by the University Games officials. We were put on a train to Gwangju along with athletes from Canada, Poland and the Netherlands. We arrived late at night and were greeted by the New Zealand delegation. During our time at the games, we were treated like celebrities. There were 125 countries and thousands of athletes. There is so much prestige about these games and this was constantly emphasised by FISU, the international university sports federation.
Training during the games was early in the morning until lunchtime, when there was usually a New Zealand team function in the afternoon. As a team, we were welcomed at a traditional temple, witnessed the raising of the New Zealand flag and walked into Gwangju Stadium as athletes for the opening ceremony. This was a highlight which every athlete should experience.
I came 46th at the games. As this was my first international competition, this result wasn’t disappointing as I was also the youngest competitor. The nature of the sport and competition is extremely different to fencing in New Zealand. The only way to gain experience and achieve results is to train and compete overseas. I would thoroughly recommend the World University Games for any student who wishes to become a high performance athlete. These games are treated as preparation for the Olympic Games. The village, training venues, competitions and ceremonies are structured like the Olympics.
This trip would not have been possible without the support of the Old Collegians Association. Their kind donation made it possible for me to travel and train in both Singapore and Korea. The skills which I have learnt both in fencing and experiences will be of benefit for me back home in New Zealand.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time as part of the New Zealand team and I look forward to competing again in 2017 in Chinese Taipei.