Twelve-year-old fencer Ethan Kushnerik on the rise

August 31, 2015 Jaime DeJesus
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In just three short years, 12-year-old Ethan Kushnerik has become an elite fencer for his age bracket. Having traveled the world to participate in tournaments, the rising star has a bright future in the sport.

“I started fencing when I was nine years old,” said the New York Fencing Academy student. “I got into it because I tried out a lot of sports and I liked fencing the best. It was fun to play and the people and coaches are nice. I started liking it right away. “

Kushnerik began his training slowly, practicing just two days a week. As he improved his skills, he increased his workload to nearly seven days a week. He realizes that fencing is a sport that doesn’t translate into immediate success and that plenty of patience is required. “When you start off, it’s not a sport where you start off winning. It takes a lot of practice and that’s why a lot of kids give up quickly.”

However, the Mill Basin resident didn’t give up quickly. Instead, he practiced with his coaches at the academy. “My coaches teach me a lot and are always helping me improve,” he said.

Most young fencers don’t experience success so early, but Kushnerik has been the exception. “One of my favorite moments was when I won the gold medal at the International Fencing Championship in Poland,” he said. He also won silver and bronze medals in the North American Cup for the individual and team event, the bronze medal at the 2014 Pan American Championship in Aruba, the gold medal in the Super Youth Circuit and multiple gold medals in the Regional Youth Circuits.

Despite the impressive success, Kushnerik still gets the jitters. “I still get nervous sometimes,” he said. “But after six months, I started getting good and that made me happy and confident.”

At school, his favorite subject is science, a career he may explore if not fencing. “I like learning new things about how things are made,” he said.

One of the major perks of fencing is traveling the world at such young age, a part of the journey that Kushnerik enjoys. “When you travel around, you learn a lot, like the different food and places,” he said. “I like traveling. It is fun meeting new people.” Besides traveling to most of the states, he’s traveled to Aruba, Peru and Poland. However, he still wants to see more of the world.

“I’ve never fenced anyone from Asia, Africa or Australia,” he said. “I want to go there to see how good the competition is over there.”

One of the most mature aspects of Kushnerik’s mentality is his take on losing and his desire to face the best.

“It’s difficult to lose, but when you do, it makes you learn more,” he explained. “You fix your mistakes and get better. If you always win, you’re never going to learn from your mistakes. The more difficult opponent makes you better. If you keep fencing easy matches, you are not going to improve.”

As of July 2015, the USA Fencing Association ranked Ethan number one in region 3 (our region) and number 2 in the country.


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