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Amita Lunges To Olympics, Simon Makes Top 8 In Qualifiers
Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualification Tournament
Former Singapore Sports School student-athlete Amita Marie Nicolette Berthier did Singapore proud by becoming the first Singaporean fencer to qualify for the upcoming Olympic Games. Not only is she the first Singaporean to qualify, she will be one of two female Singaporean fencers competing in the Games – a first for the nation.
“I am honoured and of course, elated to have been able to come this far for Singapore,” said Amita.
Before Amita’s stunning accomplishment, the only Singaporean fencers to make it to the Olympics were James Wong and Ronald Tan, who competed in the foil and epee events in 1992. Back then, they did not have to qualify and were selected based on the fact they were Singapore’s top fencers in their events.
The 20-year-old gained her spot in the Games by emerging first in the Women’s Foil Final at the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualification Tournament in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She narrowly edged out her rival, Uzbekistan’s Yana Alborova, 15-14 in a nerve-racking final.
Before reaching the knockout stage, Amita had won five out of six matches in her pool. She then roundly defeated India’s Radhika Prakash Awati 15-3, as well as Lebanon's Mona Shaito 15-4. Amita, however, had injured her ankle in the semi-finals round.
The national fencer was bravely keeping up a good fight in the final with Alborova, taking a 13-10 lead, when all of a sudden, Alborova struck her injured ankle. Despite her opponent taking the lead with 14-13, Amita bore with the pain and overcame the odds to capture another two points and secure the win.
“I could feel that it hurt, but the adrenaline took over. I had to set aside all pain and discomfort – it had to be mind over matter. I had worked hard and it was a good day overall so I was not about to let the pain and injury stop me from giving my best. I just focused on one point at a time and kept myself calm and composed.”
Amita dedicated her win to her parents, especially to her late father, who had made her promise that she would make it to the Olympics one day.
“The win at Uzbekistan was in honour of my dad (and my mum) who always gave us his best. I am extremely lucky to have had both of them. They took turns to accompany me to all my competitions.
“I remember how in 2016, my dad was looking at the logistics to fly my sister and I to Rio for Olympics. He wanted us to get a feel of what an Olympic setting would be like. But I remember that there was the outbreak of the Zika virus then. He had to put it on hold to monitor the situation. As life would have it, he passed away and we never made it to Rio. Upon his passing, I had promised him then that I will make it to the Olympics. So to be able to realise that promise means the world to me.”
Amita wasn’t the only one who did well in Tashkent. Sports School’s DBS Year 2 student-athlete Simon Lee Renjie also competed in the Senior Men’s Epee event at the tournament. The national fencer made a bee-line for the Quarter-Finals by outfencing Kuwaiti 2016 Abdulaziz Alshatti 15-6. Simon later lost to Jawad Aldawood of Saudi Arabia, but still made it to the Top 8 of the event.
“To be honest, I am disappointed that I didn’t make it to the Olympics, however, this competition helped me to see my current strengths and weakness, which will help me be ready for the next Olympics. I will keep actively striving to improve and work on improving my endurance and strength. Till the next bout!”