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Asian Games: Full speed ahead for the inimitable Amita

06 August 2018
By Nicolette Mok

TeamSG Fencer Amita Berthier gives us an insight into the endless energy that a champion possesses.

Amita Berthier had just returned to Singapore from the United States two days before this particular shoot, and it had been a flurry of interviews and medical appointments since her arrival.

amita and mum
Amita with her mother, Uma, during the #OneTeamSG Together We Can" photoshoot.

Jet-lagged? “She’s fine,” her mother chuckled. The bubbly 17-year-old, who had been based in Boston since she was 15, was used to flying around the globe for training and competitions.

Indeed, just like a fencer on the strip, Amita is constantly on the move, blazing a non-stop trail through sport and life, a ball of energy that feeds off competition, ambition, and passion.

She expressed: “I love how, with fencing, we have to constantly think on our feet. You’re fighting with somebody else, so it’s unpredictable. You might know your opponents’ weaknesses and strengths, but you’ll never know what’s going to be their second, third, and fourth moves.”

“And I never settle for any result that I achieve. If I get a good result, I’m happy for the day. But the next day, I ask myself: ‘What’s next? What more can I achieve?’ A lot of people might say that I’m still young, I’m not even 18 years old, but it doesn’t matter. Last season was one of my best ever and, this season, I want to achieve more,” Amita revealed.

amita and coach junior world champs
Amita with Coach Ralf Bissdorf after her title win at the Junior World Championship. Photo: Ralf Bissdorf / Fencing Singapore

Currently third in the world under-20 rankings, the teenager is also a SEA Games gold medallist, a Junior and Cadet World Championships bronze medallist, and the first Singaporean to win a Junior World Cup title.

For Amita, this positive energy is also what takes her through the struggles. In fact, for every difficulty she speaks about, she follows up almost immediately with an emphatic “but”, as if attacking with her blade, enthusing about all that she had gained from the trade-off.

After all, a champion never has time to dwell on the negatives.

“You need to be extremely positive as an athlete because you don’t always win. You might not do well for, say, five or six competitions in a row, but you cannot give up on yourself. You need to keep believing and working for it even if things aren’t going your way. Faced with such a scenario, I’d be doing whatever it takes to do better in the next competition,” she explained.

She continued: “I hate losing. But if I lose to a worthy opponent who is strong enough, I would be satisfied – and I’ll be looking forward to see when I can beat her next.”

world junior champs team silver
Our Women's Junior Foil Team won a historic silver earlier this year at the World Junior Fencing Championships. (L to R) Maxine Wong, Nicole Mae Wong, Amita Berthier and Tatiana Wong) Photo: Fencing Singapore

Naturally, Amita has faced her share of life’s trials on the personal front as well, from competing – and winning – just weeks after her father’s death, to being apart from her loved ones when she first had to leave home to train overseas.

Revealing more about having to live alone in Boston while completing her high school education online, she said: “I had to learn how to be independent at a young age. I missed going to a normal school too, spending time with friends. But it’s great now, since I’m starting university in August and that’s not really a big deal.”

“I love this whole independent thing. It’s made me stronger, for sure, and it makes me realise that I shouldn’t take anything for granted. It has taught me that, no matter what comes my way, I’m able to go through it and be there for myself. I might not like it, but I’ll know how to overcome it. I will keep going, keep pushing through,” Amita stated.

An eye on the Asian Games podium

Fencing-Victory Ceremony Women’s Foil Individual with Amita Marie Nicolette Berthier won gold while Nicole Mae Wong Hui Shan of Singapore  won bronze at MITEC during 29th SEA Games in KL on 16 Aug 2017 (Photo by Stanley Cheah / SportSG)
Amita struck gold at the 2017 SEA Games. Photo: Stanley Cheah / SportSG

For now, she has moved on to her next challenge – the Asian Games. Any nerves she might be feeling ahead of the competition will not get in her way of victory, as she emphasised: “When you don’t stress too much about the competition, you fence way better. I’m going to give my best and beat anybody who comes in my path.”

She shared excitedly: “On a good day, we’re trying to medal. If not, a top eight would be an amazing result. It’s something that we’re looking forward to!”

Keep up with Amita as she works towards the Asian Games in Indonesia, held from 18 August to 2 September. For more exclusive features and updates, follow our Team Singapore Facebook, Instagram and website!



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