London was calling and Daryl Homer clashed and slashed his way there.
Using his trademark quick feet and explosive flunge, he and the rest of the saber team hope to attain the greatest fencing achievement in the sport: the Olympic Gold. Fencing.net caught up with Daryl before the Olympics.
KM: How does it feel to be an Olympian?
It feels great! I’m really excited to experience the Games. I’ve been told I’ll be completely overwhelmed and humbled by the atmosphere.
That doesn’t matter though because I’m also looking forward to spending time with some of the greatest athletes in the world, competing with and cheering for team USA, and a bit of friendly competition!
KM: What types of things are you doing to get ready for the Olympics?
Right now I’m trying to keep my head on straight. I’ve been exhausted from all of our traveling and I believe that it had a negative impact on my last few results.
So now, I’m enjoying the time I have at home with my family and friends, and am looking forward to resting up so I can be fresh for the games.
KM: Feel any pressure going into the Olympics as the reigning silver medal team?
We don’t feel any pressure now. We’re a new team from the 2008 team, and we’re going for the GOLD.
We have a great combination of experience and youthful folly, so we really think we can leave London with the ultimate prize.
KM: No more being satisfied with silver, huh! On to another subject, I know you love motivational books, what books are you reading now?
I’m currently reading Steve Jobs book. I’m constantly reading new stuff. It has to be an e-book though since it is so much easier to carry things digitally when reading or listening to music.
KM: So what’s on the playlist now?
Same artists with some additions from the last time I interviewed with you! I still have my old school hip hop and new hip hop and electronica like dub step and house. I am now listening to Meek Mill and I am loving “boyfriend” by Justin Beiber.
KM: I know you love all styles of music, but I wasn’t expecting to hear Beiber! I know that you love to cook also. Do you have any new recipes that you are trying out?
We’ve been traveling so much that I haven’t had much time to dabble in the kitchen. But I’ve been making a dish with sliced red tomatoes with garlic, mayonnaise, and cheese spread! It tastes amazing with some grilled chicken!
KM: Seriously, cheese spread?
Gotta be willing to experiment sometimes!
KM: So with your “extra time” that you have… What else do you do besides fencing?
Well, I do some other sports like ultimate frisbee, basketball, soccer, and football.
I also love movies. I love dramas like Requiem for a Dream, Kids, American Beauty, Virgin Suicides, and Extremely Loud, Extremely Close. I do love a good comedy and thriller also.
I watch fencing a lot also. It is amazing what you can find on YouTube!
I watch our US team members like [Gerek] Meinhardt and Miles [Chamley-Watson] as well as saber fencers like [Aldo] Montano.
KM: Who’s your favorite fencer?
By far my favorite fencer is [Mihai] Colvaliu. He just had a beautiful style and he was just so tactically sound and so methodical in his approach. He would figure out your weakness and capitalize on it.
I also love watching Keeth Smart. He was the first American sabrist to get to a high level. I was excited when I got a chance to train with him.
As a youngster, I used to watch Keeth a lot and I copied his flunge. Everybody laughs because I actually learned how to flunge before I knew how to lunge! HA!
KM: That is hilarious! Any other tidbits that you learned from YouTube or Keeth that you care to share?
Well, people will frequently ask me about my size and stature since I am not the tallest fencer out there.
When you are a shorter fencer, you have to be more technical and premeditative with your actions. I have to move faster because of my size and be willing to close distance quickly for a parry riposte.
Also, when you are shorter, your footwork has to be more precise. When I was 16, I really took the time to start working on my footwork and that is when I started getting my high results.
Even today after years and years of fencing, I still do five hours of just footwork a week. I work on my step size and repetition, technique, and how to be in control of size and speed.
I also took time to learn how to use my speed. I had to learn to change tempo like slowing down before I accelerate and not just go fast, fast, fast all of the time. Even with all of that time with footwork, it took a full year before saw the benefits.
Footwork is one of the critical elements that no one really wants to do, but it will give you the greatest benefit. I know after some long breaks in my career like six months or so of no fencing, I have lost the feel of fencing time. It takes time to cultivate and maintain.
When I watching YouTube and live bouts, I really watch people’s footwork and see how they utilize space and then I will pull ideas from them so I can use them. That’s why I watch people like Garek and Miles from other weapons. This is what typically separates the good fencers from the great fencers.
KM: Well, let’s hope all of that time will pay off with a medal!
Footnote: Daryl Homer finished 6th in the individual Men’s Sabre competition, tying Keeth Smart’s finish from 2008. He will compete as part of the US Men’s Sabre team on August 3rd.