Ivy League Scholar. Pan American Medalist. Junior World Champion. Olympian. Just one of those titles would be worthy accomplishment, but Nzingha is no ordinary person. She is all of the above. Fencing.net caught up with Nzingha Prescod during the US national training camp shortly before the Olympics.
KM: I will say that I have a bit of a soft spot with you, Nzingha, since you were my first story with American Fencing’s Behind the Mask about three years ago that really started my writing career in fencing. Since then, every person I have interviewed is on the Olympic team! I’m batting 1.000!
I’m glad that I could be a part of your origins!
KM: How does it feel to be an Olympian now and not just hoping that you would be an Olympian like three years ago?
It feels great! It is the ultimate tournament! It is a dream to be here and we hope to bring home some medals back.
KM: Plural is a good word! Medals!!
Yeah! This already has been great a great experience so far and I am excited to get to London!
KM: From where you started three years ago, what type of things did you do to grow so you could be the Olympian that you are now?
I have always been training a lot since I was young, but one of the other things I also worked on was the mental preparation of fencing.
I realized that the mental preparation is a huge portion of the game. Fencing is more than just going out and always relying on your instincts; you have to have a game plan also.
When I was younger I just relied on those instincts, but as I got older I realized I had to mature in this part of my game. It was like growing up and losing a bit of your fencing innocence.
The training that we have been doing now has been intense. I took the year off of school at Columbia so I could focus on the Olympics and it paid off since I am here now!
KM: Since you took a year off at Columbia, so you could focus solely on the Olympics, what was it like not having to work on school and training at the same time?
This was the first time in my life that I could just fence! It was strange having so much free time that I almost didn’t know what to do with myself! HA!
I can definitely say, I liked it more than having to work at school and fencing at the same time!
Since I didn’t have to work at school, it allowed me to attend training camps here or abroad without having to worry about my grades. That was refreshing.
At the same time, I do like being occupied, but school is stressful and trying to win a spot on the Olympic team only magnifies things more.
KM: Nothing like having the magnifying glass of the Olympics to see how that focuses your thoughts for the last year!
KM: Is there any added pressure since the US Women’s Foil team took silver in Beijing?
Not really – This is a very different team from the silver medal team from 2008. I know the current team members are all going out there to have some fun, try and minimize our mistakes, and see what happens.
The US surprised people in 2008 and we hope to do it again in 2012!
KM: What were your thoughts going into Cancun for Zonals and trying to get a better seed for individuals?
It was a long season and I kind of wanted to get it over with. HA! I knew the result wouldn’t affect my ranking that much. I might have changed five spots or so.
I also knew that winning Zonals may or may not have given me a better draw because at the Olympics, you draw who you draw and then you have to deal with it.
What I mean by that is. I took third in Cancun, but if I took gold, I may have actually ended up fencing a person who is harder for me to fence. You never know.
KM: Well let’s look forward to you and the team coming home with medals!
That’s the goal!