Senior Fencer on Track to Compete in 2024 Olympics

Tatiana Nazlymov, left, lunges at an opponent. Photo by Giovanni Minozzi of the International Fencing Federation, courtesy of Tatiana Nazlymov.

Tatiana Nazlymov was born into a fencing family. Her grandfather was a three-time Olympic champion and ten-time world champion fencer; her father, also a prominent fencer, established the Nazlymov Fencing training academy along with her mother in 2018. Nazlymov, a GDS senior, started fencing at age nine and was competing internationally by her freshman year of high school.

Since then, she has rocketed up the USA National Women’s Saber fencing rankings and has become a nationally recognized star in the sport. “I really hated it up to last year,” Nazlymov said in an interview. She is currently ranked fourth in the United States in Senior Women’s Saber Fencing and committed to Princeton University’s Division I fencing program. 

Nazlymov said that in past years she felt a certain pressure associated with college recruitment and her family’s expectations, but as she grew as a fencer she discovered a sense of ambition and love for the sport.

Nazlymov said she practices for two hours a day, four days a week at her family’s academy with a large group of other advanced fencers. She also attends three 30-minute private training sessions each week. Given her ranking, she is a member of the U.S. National Fencing team, so she also completes mandatory workouts sent from the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado. She hopes to represent the U.S. at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France, which she would qualify for with her current rank.

Intense, repetitive bouts and encouraging interactions between fencers and coaches made for a lively atmosphere when I visited Nazlymov at a practice. Before I could see any actual fencing in front of me, I heard the clanging of the sabers and the battle declarations—en garde, ready, set, fence—ringing through Westmoreland Church, whose basement has been transformed into a temporary gym for Nazlymov Fencing.

Nazlymov’s consistent dedication to the sport has impressed her friends at school and her fencing mates. “She cares so much about it and she is very interested in getting better,” senior Deepa Bhargava said. 

Longtime fencing mate Natalie Olsen, who is also nationally ranked, described Nazlymov as a hard worker in all aspects of fencing. Nazlymov’s regimen includes morning runs before school, 1000 squats and 200 push-ups each Friday, intense fencing bouts in practice, and even meditation. 

Fikrat Valiyev, Nazlymov’s main coach for the past four years, expressed his admiration of Nazlymov as a fencer and as a person. In an interview, Valiyev emphasized Nazlymov’s virtue as a teammate and diligent approach to her training. Valiyev believes that Nazlymov’s extensive tournament experience will serve her well in future competitions such as the Olympic games. 

Fencing competitions have given Nazlymov the unique opportunity to travel the world as a high schooler, but at the same time forced her to miss a large amount of school. Nazlymov’s global travels have become a joke among her friends. “Every other week I’d be like, ‘Tatiana, where were you for lunch? I didn’t see you.’ And she’s like, ‘Oh sorry, I’m in Italy,’” Bhargava said. 

Road trips are a major part of the high school fencing experience since it is a small sport and there are a limited number of national tournaments. According to Olsen, Nazlymov brightens up draining travel experiences. On one trip, the two of them drove eleven hours to Georgia with a team of fencers only for the tournament to get canceled due to a COVID outbreak. 

“We were annoyed, it was New Year’s, and no one was happy,” Olsen said. “But Tatiana started playing music and suggesting road trip games that were for little kids but somehow it made it way more fun.” 

Every person in Nazlymov’s circle who the Bit interviewed described her as humble. Olson considered that someone else in Nazlymov’s position as a top-ranked fencer might have an ego or be boastful, but Nazlymov maintains a classy energy in practice and a down-to-earth, genuine attitude with her friends. 

“At practice, you don’t feel different talking to Tatiana than any of the other kids fencing at the regional level,” Olsen said. “There is never an undertone of the grandeur of her accomplishments.”

As Nazlymov looks towards the future, she is optimistic, with her eyes set on Paris in 2024.

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