- April 29, 2019
- Posted by: galya
- Category: Fencing News
WESTPORT, Conn., April 23, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Three generations of fencing talents gathered at Toquet Hall in Connecticut’s beautiful town of Westport. 2019 North American Cup Gold medalist Sapphira Ching (saber) of Hopkins School was announced the Winner of this year’s USA Fencing Connecticut Fencer’s Excellence Award. Olympian Fencing Studio was honored as the Club Winner. Runners-up were Elliot Siegel (foil) of Hopkins School and John Lin (saber) of Brunswick School.
In attendance to celebrate and applaud were pillars of the fencing and sports community: Bruce Gillman, Northeast Head of USA Fencing Coaches Association and Head Fencing Coach of Vassar College; Tom Ciccerone, founder of Sacred Heart University’s Division I fencing program; Jeremy Goun, Chairman of USA Fencing Connecticut Division and Connecticut Fencing Foundation; Tom Chiappetta, Executive Director of Fairfield County Sports Commission; and Galyna Pundyk, 2008 Olympic Gold medalist, Two-time World Champion, Two-time European Champion, and former Yale University saber coach.
Jeremy Goun presented the awards: “From a large pool of eligible USA Fencing Division I applicants, our board voted for these winners based on their consistent fencing achievements, academic success, reputation as team players, and history of service to Connecticut. They will each be awarded a Training Scholarship. Fencing is a passionate team sport about heart and care for others, not just winning medals. These kids demonstrate a true understanding of sportsmanship. They are Connecticut’s top scholar-athlete ambassadors bringing fencing to more kids in more communities. Congratulations!”
Following the ceremony, USA Fencing Director Bob Bodor congratulated Sapphira and the runners-up from Colorado via video. Coaches who know Sapphira well seem to have expected nothing less.
“I trained her at camp when she was 11 years old. Amazing to see her at the 2018 Baltimore Senior World Cup when she was only 14, fencing world-class athletes and Olympians double her age, and winning a bout! I hugged her again at the 2019 Salt Lake City Senior World Cup. She improved tremendously! Her positive attitude, big smiles, and hospitality made her an instant friend of so many fencers. Congratulations on winning the USA Fencing Connecticut #1 Fencer Award. Bravissima Sapphira!” – Maestro Nicola Zanotti, Italian National Coach of Four-time Olympic Gold, Silver, and Bronze medalist Aldo Montano and World Champion Illaria Bianco.
“I introduced her to fencing. She came from USA Swimming having already broken Connecticut records in butterfly and backstroke, and medalled at New England Championships. Little doubt that her athletic potential was extraordinary. But more amazing was her intellectual capacity. Aged 11, she passed USA Fencing referee exams for all three weapons. That’s a FIRST in USA Fencing history! No surprise to hear she vanquished college kids at chess camps! By ages 14 and 15, she officially refereed twice at USA Fencing summer nationals. A kid this young and passionate in giving back to a sport is rare. You deserve this CT top fencer award, Sapphy!” – Matt Laudicina, former Sacred Heart University saber coach.
“A kid with a big heart – Since age 8, she has sponsored toddlers and volunteered at the Save-the-Children Foundation of Connecticut. Last year, she founded Club SAX at Hopkins to promote global awareness against xenophobia. Her magnetic personality incubates friendships everywhere she travels. By everywhere, I mean over two dozen countries and 80 cities. Among all girls born 2003, FIE ranks Sapphira the World’s #1 Asian sabreuse (#9 overall) at the Senior level! I’m confident she will soar even higher, beyond Connecticut and onto the Olympic stage. Let’s do it together again, Saf!” – Galyna Pundyk, 2008 Olympic Gold medalist.
How will she spend this large windfall scholarship? Sapphira smiled gently, “I plan to donate 50/50 to Connecticut Fencing and Hopkins School. As the ancient Chinese proverb goes ‘With every sip of water, never forget its source.’ I’m here today thanks to the best coaches, amazing teachers, and fellow athletes. For sure, sharing my good fortune with the next generation is the best and only way forward!”
Congratulations Sapphira! Best of luck to your efforts in sharing your time, knowledge, and positivity with more kids and bringing this amazing sport of fencing to even more communities.