Courier Life’s Brooklyn Daily
By Nichelle Henry
April 3, 2014
Superlative swordsman Ethan Kushnerik came in first at the 37th annual International Children’s Fencing Tournament Challenge, held in Wroclaw, Poland, March 27–31.
The five-day tournament is considered one of the premier fencing contests in the world, drawing 1,400 competitors under age 15 from 21 different countries.
Kushnerik was one of 19 kids representing the United States, and he won one of the two gold medals taken home by Americans.
He crossed swords with 142 fencers from around the world in back-to-back matches, fighting for seven hours straight, and he remained undefeated.
After the last competitor met his blade, Kushnerik didn’t even realize that he had just won the gold, because he was so focused on the swordplay.
“I was just concentrating on hitting may target,” he said.
It was that mental discipline that made Kushnerik an international champion, according to his coach.
“For 10-year-old athletes, competing at such a big, international event, it’s a great accomplishment to be able to maintain such a strong physical and mental focus untill the end,” said Misha Mokretsov, head coach at the New York Fencing Academy in Coney Island.
This was Kushnerik’s first international competition, though he had also recently won silver and bronze medals at the North American Cup in Nashville, Tenn.
Kushnerik said his biggest challenge in Wroclaw was adapting to the various fencing styles of his European opponents, who come out of different traditions. Mokretsov agreed that dealing with the variety of fighting techniques is what make international tournaments so demanding.
“This was a world event of the highest magnitude,” said Mokretsov. “You need to be very flexible and able to adjust to different fencing styles.”