SA fencer Harry Saner going into Paris Olympics with ‘medal-winning mentality’

SA fencer Harry Saner celebrates after qualifying for the Paris Olympics. Photo: International Fencing Federation/Facebook

SA fencer Harry Saner celebrates after qualifying for the Paris Olympics. Photo: International Fencing Federation/Facebook

Published Jun 16, 2024



South African Olympian and fencer for the 2024 Paris Olympics, Harry Saner, hopes to be the knight in shining armour for Mzansi as he sets his sights on gold to complete a dream that began when he was nine years old.

The now-23-year-old has always been fascinated by castles and swords, and 14 years after falling in love with the sport of fencing and begging his father to join a club, he will carry his sword into war against the best the world has to offer.

His journey to Paris has been filled with joy, but the seed planted needed a lot of care to bear fruit through every challenge and pain, and Saner reaped rewards with his biggest achievement in his career so far.

Speaking about the day he booked his ticket to Paris, he had to be mentally strong and fight off the emotions and the mini battles going on in his head.

“My mental strength and practice carried me through those thoughts and emotions so I could be victorious. I have never dealt so well with my emotions where I could co-exist with all these racing thoughts, and then calmly bring my focus to the task at hand,” Saner told Independent Newspapers.

“This was an amazing fruition of my mental practice, and I’m glad that I could still learn so much on the day that I will carry forward in my fencing career and my life.”

The Paris Olympics will be the first time South Africa are represented in the event since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and he looks forward to the challenge and is clear in his mind of the outcome he wants.

“My focus for this Olympics is to go in with a medal-winning mentality. Right now, I’m doing everything I can to make sure I’ll perform at my best. Fencing is a wild sport, so nothing is for certain. And having expectations I find generally ruins all the fun of fencing. But of course, I have my sights set on gold.”

Fencing as a sport still has a lot of growth to do in South Africa ‒ the need for facilities and equipment could potentially be one of the obstacles faced by potential athletes wanting to make inroads into the code.

The lack of awareness of the sport among most South Africans is the biggest gap that has to be filled in order to be competitive with the rest of the world.

“Fencing isn’t one of the biggest sports in South Africa, and on every level, it has boundless room for improvement. On the national level, I think South Africa can compete internationally,” Saner said.

“Another issue is a lack of focused support and directed resources. South African fencing could make leaps and bounds of progress if we had plans, programmes, events, training camps, additional competitions, and regular funding to support more athletes.

“Yet currently, it is up to the individual to do what they need to do to get what they want.

“The sport isn’t growing in South Africa for a myriad of reasons, but I believe that the fencing community and the relevant sports federations need to work together to lay out and execute a plan of action to recruit more people into the sport, and have more events to showcase fencing.”

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paris olympics 2024