WASHINGTON, February 28, 2013 — Prior to the 2000’s, foil fencer Sergei Golubitsky had arguably cemented himself as the greatest foil fencer of all time, winning three world championships in a storied career. At the turn of the millennium, a young German fencer by the name of Peter Joppich entered the international fencing scene and forever changed the game of foil, making the act of winning a habit.
Joppich has won five world championship gold medals (four individual and one team) and an Olympic team bronze in the London 2012 Olympics. He has won a total of 13 world medals — and he just turned 30 years old. What’s most impressive about Joppich’s many world championships is that they came during both eras of foil fencing.
Prior to 2005, foil was centered on an action known as the “flick,” which as the name implies was a quick snap of the blade that exerted enough force to bend the weapon at extreme angles and land lightly on the opponent’s target area. In 2005, the timing of foil was altered, making flicking significantly more difficult (but still a part of the game). Many fencers struggled to adjust to the timing, but Joppich managed to win two titles before the timing change — and three after.
Speaking with Joppich, I found that he never seemed to claim any credit for any of his personal successes without graciously thanking his teammates, his coach and even his physical therapist. His humility has allowed him to remain driven to win, and as you will read, victory for Peter Joppich is only temporary.
Like Alabama football coach Nick Saban, Joppich only briefly revels in victory before returning to the drawing board and resetting his goals so that winning can continue habitually. I sat down with Peter Joppich to discuss memories of his fencing career, his training regimen and his relationship with his coach.