Peros preps fencers for future

National champ's first foray into coaching

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs fencing

Jon Purdy

PLAYIN' A LITTLE POKE 'ER. The Mustangs fencing team recently turned to Canadian national sabre champion Mark Peros for help during training for the OUA championships.

During training for this year’s Ontario University Athletics championships, the Western Mustangs fencing team got some help from an invaluable source " Canadian national sabre champion Mark Peros.

While some of Western’s fencers took up the sport in university, 30-year-old Peros, who owns a small Toronto garment business, started fencing at 12 years old.

Eighteen years of experience have done Peros well; he’s currently training to compete internationally.

“The next year and a half I’m actually training for the Olympics in Beijing,” he said. “That’s why I’m spending a lot of time here doing this, training once or twice a day and travelling to a lot of cool places.

“I’m really enjoying it.”

Peros was asked by friends on the Western squad to visit and train for a day.

“I’m a referee on the OUA circuit and I’ve been friends with a bunch of the guys for a while,” Peros said. “They asked me to come for a day to help them out and I said ‘Sure, that’s great.’”

Peros began the day lightheartedly.

“I started off with a fun warm-up thing this morning,” he said. “It’s all about having fun, playing a game and enjoying being here.”

The day continued with technical work and sparring.

“I talked to [the team] about a variety of things on changing tempo and changing speed,” Peros said. “Now we’re going over some sparring... and as we go I’m stopping them all and telling them what they should correct, what they did wrong and what they did well " just instilling confidence in them as well.”

He emphasized the athleticism required for fencing.

“The sport of fencing is a very athletic sport, and you have to be fit,” he said. “You have to be able to move and think fast.”

Western sabre team member Victor Sander pointed to Peros’ experience.

“He has way more experience than anyone else that we’ve had a chance to see or practise with,” Sander said. “It’s all about tricks once you get to certain levels.

“It’s just the little details, and he knows a lot about them, so the more we get a chance to work with him the better prepared we are.”

Women’s sabre captain Kathryn Skelton agreed.

“It helps a lot,” she said. “We never really get chances like this unless we drive to other cities to get some help.”

Prior to the OUAs, Peros had never coached before.

“This is the first time,” he said. “Who knows " maybe after my fencing career’s over I’ll [coach] more as a hobby or a part-time job.”

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