This analysis is going to be much shorter than my first because I am going to post my conclusions rather than go through my post competition analysis in detail like the first one. My conclusions from this competition are mainly from a mental, rather than technical perspective. This is not because I haven't identified anything wrong with my fencing technically (there is always something to fix!) but because during this competition I had a mini epiphany about my attitude towards these competitions, and how detrimental it was to my performance.
Cut after the poule rounds, with 1 victory and 5 defeats.
First match: 5-0 defeated by AU- Hong Kong
Second Match: 5-0 defeated by Kiryanova- Russia
Third Match: 5-3 defeated by Pundyk- Ukraine
Fourth Match: 5-3 defeated by Gardos-Hungary
Fifth Match: 5-0 defeated by Yu-China
Sixth Match: 5-2 beat Alonso Romero- Mexico
In two and half weeks training between the Grand Prix in Orleans and this competition my focus at training in Rome was on my ability to accelerate backwards when I needed too and on my developing the finish of my attack (at the right time and with a fast hand). I have definitely improved on these technical aspects over the past two weeks, and when it came to focus on a competitive mind set for this competition I found that focusing on breathing to relax, and being ready to move a much as possible worked well in training.
This also worked well in my warm up before the competition.
DURING THE COMPETITION
Everyone would be better at their sport if they competed as well as they trained. For the majority of athletes this is the hard part of competing. The trademark of champions and elite athletes at their peak is not only their technical and physical proficiency but their consistent ability to perform at their best under pressure. Asides from all my technical and physical deficiencies compared to the very best in the world in fencing, my major problem at the World Cup standard is being able to perform well at this level of intensity and pressure. Quite simply the attitude I had towards these competitions wasn't working.
After losing my first two matches 5-0, my mental attitude switched from worrying about 'moving' and trying to 'feel' when to execute my actions to (pardon my French) one of 'F*** it'. At this stage I had not scored a single touch and I had lost to someone I had beat previously at this level. The idea of having nothing to lose and not caring relaxed me and instead of expecting something and trying to respond to it I was simply allowing myself to fence.
Allowing yourself to 'fence' may sound a little bit elementary, but the one thing I actually admitted to myself for the first time at this competition is that I am scared of competing at this level. This fear affects my technical ability as well as my focus and as a result I fail to execute any action correctly. This fight and ability I am known to have at national competitions in Australia are simply lost because I have not admitted to myself that I am scared.
This analysis is a lot less technical than my previous one because my major deficiency during competitions of this intensity is emotional and mental. The first step for me was being able to admit to myself that I am fearful in competition, now I have two days of solid training before my last World Cup of the season to address this.
- The major factor in my losses has been a fear of failure, to the extent that I fail to execute my actions properly. Over the next week my focus will be on letting myself fence, and to fence as if I have nothing to lose.
- The technical deficiencies I have identified previously are improving but still need work, particularly to be able to translate to a competition environment. These include: lack of hand speed and control, heavy footwork with no control of acceleration backwards or the fast finish of an attack, and a slower than required change of direction from defence to attack.