Fencers Scanlan ’12, Singh ’14 aim for spots at London Olympics

In the Feb. 9 issue, PAW reported on how Princeton fencers Jonathan Yergler ’13, Edward Kelley ’13, and Hannah Safford ’13 have used international tournaments to help them prepare for this weekend’s Ivy League Championships at Jadwin Gym. The story also mentioned two athletes who won’t be participating at Ivies – Olympic hopefuls Susannah Scanlan ’12 and Ambika Singh ’14, both on leave from Princeton.
 
8741-scanlan-thumb-200x267-8740.jpg
Susannah Scanlan ’12 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Scanlan, a native of St. Paul, Minn., picked up fencing at age 9 and fell in love with the sport’s competitive intensity. Roberto Sobalvarro, who coaches Scanlan at her home club in Minneapolis, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that the young Scanlan had “a chip on her shoulder the size of a table” – a description that makes her cringe.

 
“I definitely like arguing,” she says with a laugh. “So I think that part of my personality comes out when I fence. When I was younger, I was a very aggressive fencer – I just liked to attack. Now, I’ve gotten better at holding back a little bit.”
 
Scanlan’s maturity on the strip has translated into success in college fencing – All-American honors in both of her first two seasons – and in international events. Through Jan. 17, she stood at No. 6 in the U.S. women’s foil rankings, one spot behind former Tiger Maya Lawrence ’02.
 
After taking classes in the fall semester, Scanlan began a three-semester break from college. The time off, she says, will help her manage a hectic travel schedule. While at Princeton, for instance, she might travel to Europe one weekend, return to campus for two weeks, and head back to Europe again for another tournament. In her pre-Olympic run, she’ll be able to reduce her jet lag by spending those two intervening weeks training in Europe.
 

8743-singh-thumb-200x267-8742.jpg
Ambika Singh ’14 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Singh, a freshman foilist from nearby Montgomery, N.J., also hopes to use her time off to improve her training and competition calendar. She already has had remarkable success for an 18-year-old, earning a spot on the U.S. senior national team while still in high school and helping the women’s foil team win gold at the Pan-American Games last summer. But Singh says that she initially struggled with the sport and even considered quitting before she found a new club, the Fencing Academy of South Jersey, and blossomed as a teenager.

 
She currently ranks No. 6 among U.S. women’s foilists, and though she only has been in college for one semester, she opted for the same path as Scanlan, taking three semesters off in hopes of earning a spot on the Olympic team.
 
Singh says she’s focused on “the journey more than the result,” realizing that her prime years as a fencer may still be ahead of her. If the 2012 games in London don’t work out, perhaps the Rio games in 2016 will be her destination. “I can see myself doing it again,” she says. “This is just the beginning.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>