Ryan Xu described winning a gold medal at the Canada Cup as a “rollercoaster ride” that had its share of ups and downs.
He competed in the January 19-21 tournament held by the Canadian Fencing Federation in Quebec, but after a disappointing showing on the first day of play, Ryan wasn’t feeling confident about the next day of competition.
After not playing up to his expectations Saturday, Ryan was looking to put together a better performance in the next round.
“I survived the first elimination round,” he recalls. “The game didn’t start in my favour, but my coach started reinforcing me.”
With some guidance from his coach he was able to focus and win the round. “It was really hard, but I regained my confidence and went into the next round.”
After a confidence-building win, Ryan found himself in the semi-finals paired with an opponent he’s met before, and lost to. But now in a groove, Ryan would rally to win, advancing to the finals.
Again, he was paired with an opponent who’d also beat him before, and again, Ryan was victorious, winning the Junior Men’s Sabre.
The Grade 11 student's victory is so impressive because he only took up the sport less than three years ago. Initially, it began as a way to meet his fitness goals and get in shape. A few months after picking up a sabre for the first time, he entered a competition and he came in fourth out of five.
Then he met Yaojiang Huang, a two-time Olympic fencer, who would become his coach. Ryan, who lives in Aurora, now practices out of Yaojiang’s Axis Fencing Club in Markham, Ont. and says it was Yaojiang’s support that helped push him to medal at the Canada Cup.