5 time World Champion Peter Joppich talks about winning, Part 2

What did it take for the greatest foil fencer of all time to reach this pinnacle? 

Photo: Peter Joppich (r) vs. Victor Sintes (l), Paris World Championship AP/Francois Mori

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2013 — In Part 1 of our interview series with Peter Joppich, we talked with him about his origins in fencing, his relationship with his coach Uli Schreck, and his ability to play the mental aspect of fencing with ease.

In Part 2, we continue our talk with Peter about his training regimen, his legacy in fencingand his favorite memories in his fencing career.


SEE RELATED: Interview: 5 time World Champion Peter Joppich, Part 1


Damien Lehfeldt: In as much detail as possible, walk us through what a typical day of training looks like for you.

Peter Joppich:

The sweet taste of victory Photo: AP

This a difficult question, because it depends on the part of the season.

Before the season: I start with physical training, running, lifting weights, and then I switch to fencing. I do footwork, get my first lessons and start fencing with my teammates.

During the World Cup season: My main fencing days are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. On these days I get lessons, fence with my teammates or do footwork. On Monday and Friday I do physical training or recovery exercises after tournaments.

World Championship training: This is the most intensive training to get your body and mind in a good shape for the big stage. For the first three weeks, I do training camps and a lot of physical training like running and lifting weights.

For the last four weeks: fencing, lessons and footwork and on the weekends, fencing training camps with the first and second team and junior fencers.


SEE RELATED: Predictions for the 2013 NCAA Fencing Championships


DL: What are your short-term goals and long term goals in fencing, and do you think we’ll see you competing in the Veterans 70 division?

PJ: I don’t know if I’m the type who will be competing in the veterans division. But I know veteran fencers, visited veterans competitions and I like to see that you can fence even at an advanced age.

If I look back at my 13 World Championship medals and my Olympic medal, a lot of people would guess that I don’t have further goals, but I’m different. If I win medals, I’m very happy about it, but after a short time I always look forward to the next big event and how I can win the next medal. My motivation is to win — I always try to win — and not just in fencing. A new Olympic period just started and my long-term goal is Rio 2016. During this time we will have three World Championships, so I’m hoping to win more and add to my legacy.

DL: What is your single favorite memory of your fencing career and why?

PJ: There is no single favorite memory. If look back at my whole career, I see a lot of ups, but also a lot of downs. All my world championship titles and the Olympic medal means a lot to me. I do not like to compare them, because every medal has its own history.

Peter Joppich (r) v. Jeremy Cadot (l), 2013 Photo: AP

To take part in the Olympics is something great. To be there with the best sportsmen of the world and to live with them in one village is amazing. You collect so many memories you will never forget.

But a very special moment in my career was my World Championship win in Paris at the Grand Palais. This was the best World Championship I’ve ever seen.

The spectators were great and the palace where it took place was amazing. It was a big palace on the Champs-Élysées, where normally designers present their new collections in big fashion shows.

At the beginning of the 2010 season, I set a goal to win in the homeland of fencing (France), and now I am very happy that I could win there. I will never forget this special moment of being on top at the medal ceremony.

DL: While an amazing Olympic run for Team Germany and Britta Heidemann, what do you make of the Shin A. Lam controversy and what can the FIE do to ensure such errors are not repeated in the future?

PJ: It was a very difficult decision, because nobody knew if the clock was running or not. There were a lot hits in the final second and nobody understood how this was possible. Even the referee didn’t know if the clock was running.

For the future, it would be good to have a clock with hundredths of seconds (like in the NBA) so that the referee has the chance to see if the clock is running or not.

DL: This question came from the Reddit Fencing Community (from Mattinthehat). How has being so successful at such a young age affected your mindset and career? Does it make it harder to appreciate victories later on and stay motivated when you won so much in your early twenties?

PJ: Because I was successful in my youth, the pressure and the expectations grew very vast. I learned to handle this in a professional way. Sometimes, it was not so easy. But I stayed motivated all the time because after winning big events I always looked forward for new goals and winning new medals is something that motivates me.

Of course, I had some downs in my career, but they were also important for my personality and development. I learned to handle these situations, to trust in myself, and to look forward. I appreciate my later victories in the same way that I do my former victories. Some were harder to win because of the big pressure. To repeat victories or to win medals for many years is something that characterizes top fencers.

DL: When you complete your fencing career, how would you like to be remembered by the fencing community?

PJ: I always want to be myself. I am not a showman. I want to stay in mind as a great fencer who isn’t only characterized by his titles.

Damien is a competitive fencer and volunteer assistant coach at DC Fencers Club in Silver Spring, Md. Damien was the coach of a London 2012 Olympic Athlete in Modern Pentathlon. He is an A-rated epeeist and was a member of the 2012 North American Cup Gold Medal Men’s Epee Team.

 

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Damien is a competitive fencer and volunteer assistant coach at DC Fencers Club in Silver Spring, Md. Damien was the coach of a London 2012 Olympic Athlete in Modern Pentathlon. He is an A-rated epeeist and was a member of the 2012 North American Cup Gold Medal Men’s Epee Team.


 

 


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Damien Lehfeldt

Damien is a fencing coach and competitor at the DC Fencers Club in Silver Spring, Maryland. He is the coach of a 2012 London Olympic athlete in Modern Pentathlon and a member of the gold medal team at the 2012 North American Cup. Damien has coached multiple national finalists and Junior Olympic medalists.

Damien is the owner of TheFencingCoach.com, a fencing blog designed to share training tips, leadership philosophies, and best practices in coaching. He is an “A” rated epeeist and foilist. 

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