Alexis competes in the sport of fencing and has competed at an international level. He talks to Sundried about life in sport.
Have you always been into sport?
Absolutely! I tried quite a few different sports when I was younger, ranging from ice hockey to cross country to football. Mainly, I would say that my passion for sports stemmed from my love for the outdoors as well as from my competitive nature, both against others but more importantly with myself. I find the rush of energy you get from any sort of exercise exhilarating and pushing my physical and mental limits is what I find most addictive and where I derive the most enjoyment from.
How did you first get into fencing?
Actually, my father has always been a fencer and seeing him come back from training and competitions is what sparked that interest. I first tried fencing at a local club in San Diego, where I used to live. It was a lot of fun straight from the start, especially playing warm-up games and the sparring sessions and I really fell in love with the sport thanks to tournaments - first locally, slowly progressing to national, European and international ones.
What has been your favourite competition up to date and why?
My first ever European competition in Birmingham will always be a memory I look back on very fondly. It was by no means a good day in terms of my ranking at the end of the day, but the whole experience of seeing such a large number of talented fencers my age and the high intensity of the warm-ups and matches is very memorable to me.
What is your proudest achievement?
A few years ago, during my last year as a cadet (under 17s), I capped off the season with a bronze medal on the national circuit. I had never fenced so well in my life, nor had I ever gotten a medal in as big a competition. This was one of my proudest moments as a fencer and I hope I can continue to enjoy my fencing as much as I did that day, and hopefully aim for some even better results in the near future.
How do you overcome setbacks?
Setbacks can come in all shapes in sizes, the most obvious being not achieving the results I am aiming for competitively. In such cases, I find it useful to give myself a few days to cool off before coming back with a fresh pair of eyes to look back on match footage with my coach and analytically pick out weaknesses to focus on in training and individual lessons.
However, eventually, it is crucial for me to move on from the event and start looking ahead optimistically to the next competition, knowing that the experience and training you have done has only made you stronger. As for most other setbacks - such as injuries - I tend to ask coaches, family and close friends for advice.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
When I first started fencing, I would let my competitive side show too much in training and my sole objective during my sparring sessions would be to try and win against every single opponent. However, over time, I have come to understand the importance of focusing on your own technique in training and to save the competitiveness for tournaments. Losing sparring matches is ok, as long as you have taken away something useful from it, which is something I only learned later-on.
What are your goals?
At the moment, I am aiming to get back onto the English national team. I was invited to compete with them a few years ago, but did not have the British nationality at the time to do so. Alongside this, I would love to achieve high results in the BUCS league with my university as well as on a personal level, hopefully getting another national medal.
Who inspires you?
Of course, there are plenty of Olympic-level fencers whom I admire greatly; their stunning work ethic and their drive to succeed and become the best in the world is something I look up to immensely.
More personally though, my father is someone who never ceases to amaze me. He has found an incredible balance between having a family life and driving my brother and I to training sessions, fencing camps and competitions. Like him, I hope to one day pass my love for fencing down to my children and to make as much of an effort to help others push their barriers further than they thought possible.
Why work with Sundried?
As I said above, sharing my love for sports - especially fencing - is something I hope to do throughout my life, and I am so appreciative for Sundried’s support in doing just that. Financially, fencing is not a cheap sport, and so providing people with high-quality sports apparel for a reasonable price is something I am very thankful for; it means I no longer need to focus as much on what I wear off the piste because I know that I will be comfortable as well as happy with how I look. As well as this, I strongly support and believe in Sundried’s vision and work towards being sustainable in the production of their clothing line.