Berthier happy to put S'pore on map

Twice NCAA team champ named Women's Foil Athlete of the Year by US coaches

Consistency has paid off for national fencer Amita Berthier after she was named the Women's Foil Athlete of the Year by the United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA) on Thursday.

The University of Notre Dame student said she was honoured to be recognised and added that being a Singaporean made the win even more special.

She said: "Knowing that I won among my fellow competitors in the US, who have very formidable track records, gives me some hope that coaches in the US know my potential and see it. This is definitely a boost to my confidence.

"I am very proud to own this award, especially coming from a smaller country like Singapore, I am always happy to put our country on the map.

"It also drives me to want to do better and not just for the awards but because it is a testament to my hard work."

She was selected alongside teammate Kaylin Hsieh (winner in the epee category) and head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia, named the USFCA Coach of the Year.

Berthier, 21, attributed her success to her consistent results over the past three years for her school. As part of the Notre Dame fencing team, she has won the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Fencing Championships team title in 2021 and this year. The 2020 edition was cancelled due to the pandemic. Individually, she was third in 2019 and 2021. This year, she claimed a silver.

As a freshman, she was also Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) women's foil champion and ACC Fencer of the Year in women's foil.

"Winning the NCAA team title felt surreal, especially this year with the Ivy League teams back," Berthier said. "It really showed how strong our team is and I am really proud and honoured to be part of the team. It was also nice to win it on home turf."

She is in her third year as an undergraduate and had to miss the ongoing Hanoi SEA Games due to her studies. She has three Games golds - individual in 2017 and individual and team in 2019.

"Unfortunately, the SEA Games came at a bad time for me and some requirements had to take priority but I wish my teammates the very best and success there."

Berthier has focused instead on the June 10-15 Asian Senior Fencing Championships in Seoul and the July 15-23 World Senior Fencing Championships in Cairo.

She noted: "There's going to be a strong pool of competitors, athletes much more experienced than I am, but I think I am a strong contender as well and I am definitely going to give my best."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2022, with the headline Berthier happy to put S'pore on map. Subscribe