The US Women’s Foil team has a huge challenge in front of them. Not only do they have to follow up Beijing’s Silver Medal performance, but they are trying to do so with a new Olympic line-up (save Doris Willette who was the replacement athlete in Beijing). Fencing.net caught up with Nicole Ross before she left for Cancun for the Pam Am Zonal Fencing Championships.
KM: How does it feel to be an Olympian?
It feels great! I’m really relieved and honored and excited!
KM: What was going through your head in Virginia Beach when you knew that an Olympic team spot was up for contention? I realize for the most part, you knew you had a fairly good shot at the team, but you still had to get the result.
It was nerve racking! I never felt like I had it in the bag or anything like that!
Sometimes I have a hard time focusing on the numbers and what I would have to do. It’s very complex system; but when I looked at the numbers, I knew I had to make the top four to make the team.
Going in to the competition, I was nervous and tense and because sometimes I have a challenge getting myself up for a tournament.
KM: Did you have a challenge getting yourself motivated for this one?
Well, it was weird. Since this was a much smaller tournament than usual, there was even more pressure to perform. Some of the top level people weren’t fencing. Nzingha [Prescod] and Lee [Keifer] weren’t fencing since they already had spots secured and Emily Cross and Ambika Singh didn’t fence since they were injured.
KM: A little different pressure than the men’s foil?
Yeah, that’s crazy that it was only eight points after all of those thousands! They had three people going for those two spots.
What I knew is what I had to do. I knew if I made the top four, then I was on the team. The only challenge was there wasn’t much room for error since the field was small!
KM: Do you do better or worse when you are under pressure?
I do much better under pressure! I have always done much better when I had to stretch myself for a result. I thrive under that environment and I invite it!
KM: You’ll have the Olympics to thrive all that much more!
KM: Now you know that you will be facing South Korea in the team event. How do you feel about that since you lost to them in St. Petersburg, the last tournament before the Olympics?
The two teams we were going to draw, South Korea or Poland, were going to be a tough match. We have never beaten either of them this year.
KM: Are you a bit nervous since you’ve never beaten them before?
In certain ways, this is just like the 2008 Women’s team before they went on to take the silver. They had never beaten Poland, yet they went out and beat them and took silver! We are looking to the 2008 team for some motivation.
KM: Wouldn’t it be easier if you had beaten them at least once before?
Yes, but I look at it like this. If we had beaten them in the event before the Olympics, they would be training that much harder when they face us.
Now that they have beaten us just before the Olympics, they may be a bit more relaxed and we can take advantage of that and upset them.
We have a young and strong team and we think we can surprise a lot of teams!
KM: The Olympics have an invitation for you to thrive under pressure!
Indeed! Bring it on!
[slickr-flickr tag="nicoleross" items="5" type="slideshow" id="[email protected]"]
More on Nicole Ross from around the web:
Named one of 60 Sexiest American Athletes (photo by Michael Dote)