Singapore fencer Amita Berthier, 18, wins senior satellite tourney
Fencer, 18, becomes only the second Singaporean to win an FIE senior satellite tournament
Fencer Amita Berthier added another feather to her cap by winning the Trekantan International in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Sunday.
This makes her only the second Singaporean to clinch a senior satellite tournament on the International Fencing Federation (FIE) circuit.
The 18-year-old foil fencer, who was seeded fifth, won five out of six matches in the poules.
She went on to upset second-ranked Martyna Dlugosy of Poland 15-11 in the quarter-finals, before defeating another Polish fencer Julia Walczyk 15-11 in the semi-finals.
Continuing her winning run, Berthier emerged triumphant against Italy's Elena Tangherlini 15-9 in the final to gain four vital ranking points in her quest to qualify for next year's Tokyo Olympics.
Berthier is the first Singaporean to win a senior satellite competition in the Tokyo 2020 qualifying period, which ends in April next year. Nicole Wong was the first to win a senior satellite in Turkey in December 2014.
Berthier, an undergraduate at University of Notre Dame, had taken a gap year to train full-time to chase her Olympic dreams.
She had a change in coach in May when she went under the tutelage of world-renowned foil coach Amgad Khazbak, who also mentors leading American woman foilist Lee Kiefer, the world No. 1 foil fencer in 2017.
Reflecting on her win, Berthier said: "It was tough and my first competition for the season. There was quite a bit of anxiety going in as I had won silver last year.
"With a stronger cohort of fencers this year, I had to be mentally and physically prepared to do just as well or better."
Fencing Singapore (FS) president Juliana Seow said: "Amita's achievements today are fuelled by her undying passion and commitment to the sport, supported by her mother Uma, coach Amgad, club Z Fencing, school Notre Dame, FS and SSI (Singapore Sports Institute). It truly takes a village to support a high-performance athlete."
Berthier has been rising steadily. In March, she became the first local to top the world junior rankings (20 and under) in the women's foil. She is now 59th in the senior division.
Her next competition will be the senior satellite in Barcelona on Oct 26. She will also be fencing at the London Junior World Cup on Nov 2 before heading to the Nov 30-Dec 11 SEA Games in the Philippines.
Tokyo is never far from her mind, though.
Berthier added: "The goal of trying to qualify (for the Olympics) is something I hold dear to my heart.
"It is going to be a challenging task ahead to qualify but I am determined to give it my utmost best and run hard."