Brooklyn-trained youth pursues fencing with a passion

December 20, 2013 Jaime DeJesus
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Born in France, but trained in Brooklyn, 16-year-old fencer Romain Cannone has lived a life full of  hard work, inspiration and lots of traveling. In November, all that culminated in Cannone winning the bronze medal during the European Cadet Circuit, a competition that featured 171 fencers from 15 different countries.

Despite his winning performance, Cannone admitted to having some jitters during the tournament, which took place in Chalons, France. “I was very nervous. I almost threw up. I was worried about doing bad. It was very stressful. You want the coach to do well too,” he explained. “But then I believed in myself and in the end, it was worth it.”

Cannone also led his teammates to a silver medal finish the following day of the Circuit. He represented team France. “It was a great feeling because it’s hard at first since we’re from different places,” he explained. “It’s usually an individual sport. So working as a team was hard. But we were able to move on from that and think as a team. It was great.”

He attributes his success to both his coach, Misha Mokretsov and the New York Fencing Academy in Coney Island, where he’s been training for years. “They pretty much taught me everything,” Cannone said. “The work has been worth it. (My coach) knows me very well. He knows how to get me focused.”

Along with his success, Cannone has also enjoyed traveling to different countries and meeting new people. “I met Italian friends as well as Belgians and Germans,” he noted. “You get to meet many people from different countries. It’s very diverse and was a good experience.”

Cannone got into fencing five years ago thanks to a family member’s love for the sport. “My cousin was in a fencing camp in New York and I had nothing better to do so I decided to try to fence,” he recalled. “And I ended up really liking it. It was fun going with him.” Competing with others also sparked his passion for the sport.

Once his love for the sport grew, so did Cannone’s work ethic. He currently practices 13-hour days four times a week. “I do stretching, cardio and weights,” he said. Stressing, “Everything matters.”

In addition to keeping fit, Cannone also emphasized the importance of the mental aspect of the sport. “Many things are involved,” he said. “How you strategize and figure out your opponent by seeing what they do and how you can use that, like letting him attack you and get him when he’s not ready.”

Though he is still young, Cannone enjoys fencing so much that he’s considering a future in the sport. “I’m thinking about continuing fencing,” he said. “It’s been fantastic so far. It never gets tiring or old.” That may be a wise decision. On December 17, he won the Cadets North American Cup in Dallas.

“It’s been like really extraordinary.  I’m very proud of myself and also my coach for training me so well. We train a lot. We deserved it,” said Cannone. “If I work hard, I can achieve things.”

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