Doris Willette – Excited for London

Doris Willette
Doris Willette

Doris Willette is the replacement athlete for the US Women's Foil Team (Photo: US Fencing)

Making the Olympic team in any capacity is a goal that most people can only dream about.  This Olympic luster may be diminished though, by being a replacement athlete, not once, but twice in a row.

Doris has taken this in stride and is excited about training and being a part of the upstart women’s foil team for London. was able to catch up with her just before her world cup in St. Petersburg.

KM: I know that this is a challenging question, but everyone wants to know, how are you feeling about being a replacement athlete again, twice in a row?

Doris: I love the fact that I am on the Olympic team again, even as a replacement athlete!  Sure it is disappointing, I’m not going to lie, but I am happy that I get to go back again and help train with the team and hopefully make a difference there!

I’m still training and trying to be consistent as possible.  I’m still working out twice a day.  I do two hours in the gym in the morning and two and half hours of fencing practice a day.

So yeah, I’m bummed that don’t get a chance to fence in the individuals but we have a very close knit team.  It was like this in 2008 in Beijing also.  No one expected us to get to the podium because we didn’t have the big results before the games, yet there we were at the medal stand.

It is the exact same way for us right now.  We don’t have the big individual results so to speak now, but watch out, we’ve done it before and we can do it again!

KM: What was it like for you in Virginia Beach when you knew so much was riding on that one tournament?

Doris: It was really challenging!  There was a ton of pressure and my nerves were going all over the place!

The field was much smaller than usual and of the top five or six fencers, only two or three of them were fencing in this event.  I knew to make the team; I would have to basically win it and Nicole [Ross] would have to finish outside of the top three.

I knew it was an outside shot.  It has been a long and tough last couple of seasons, but at least I had a shot.  Some people never get that.

It is strange that both foil teams were very close in points.  Men’s was crazy though!  Eight points!

I’m excited that I get to at least cheer them on at the Olympics and hopefully we’ll get a good draw going into the Olympics.

KM: Do you know who you are facing yet?

Doris: As it stands right now, we would be facing Poland which could be a good draw for us.  We really want to face them again.

We have fenced them before and it has been close.  The last tournament in Hungary, we lost to them by two touches.  It was very close and it was also the location where Hungary lost to France.

We had been very close in world ranking with Hungary and when they lost to France, it was heartbreaking that we also lost because we could have gained some ground on them in world ranking.

What was frustrating is it seemed like the touches would go back and forth on the real close calls between us and Poland, but once it was announced that Hungary had lost, it was almost like the close calls became a more inconsistent in going our way.  I know it is a tough thing with some subjective calls with right of way weapons, but it seemed like it became more inconsistent after the announcement that Hungary had lost.

Of course that is just my opinion, but that is the way it felt.  As a fencer, all we ask for is consistent calls throughout a bout.   We fencers realize that we are going to see things different being in front of our opponent and not being on the side where the referee is where they can see both actions.  It was just hard to be that close, two points.

KM: I understand that.  As a referee myself, I know that we tend to kick ourselves when we make an incorrect call.  I know that there are referees who will sulk and not want to talk to anyone because we replay that wrong call in our head over and over and wonder, “Did that cost someone the bout?”

Doris: I know that it is hard to always see the calls.  The old saying goes, “There are always two to three calls that you won’t agree with the referee.  You just have to deal with it.”  That’s why you guys get paid the big bucks to do that!

KM: HA!  I keep forgetting that!

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