Nardine Ihab Jostling Between Fencing and Performance Training

“The secret to fencing consists in two things, to give, and to not receive.”

Nardine Ihab, a 25 years old lady, and professional fencer, African champion, and world cup ranking player, holds a media management degree, and has a beautiful, heartfelt and motivating story to share with you. Read along and feel the thrill, pain, loss, victory, and passion between the lines!

Girl Meets sword

Nardine, like most Egyptian children, played multiple sports growing up, but by time, before her fencing era, she was a dedicated, and an enthusiastic basketball player, until…

“I once, went along with my friend, and basketball co-player to her fencing training. I was meant to wait for her until she’s done, but the coach asked me to do a few fencing basics, and he was impressed! I was able to do all the moves very well, despite them being difficult. fencing requires coordination, as the movements are complex and intricate. The coach asked me to consider joining and training, I said OKAY, but I didn’t give it another thought, I loved basketball and I had no intention of leaving it.”

The Turning Point 

“On our next encounter, the coach asked for my parents’ number. He called my dad and convinced him that I should try training and joining fencing, and that I have great potential. My dad encouraged me to join and try. Shortly after, an unfortunate and an unfair event took place and I didn’t qualify in basketball. I was discouraged and dispirited, and I took a break from basketball.”

Swiftly Rising Above 

“After 3 months into fencing, I was 11 at that time, my coach asked me to try and join a championship, and I did. I got qualified to the quarter finals! Since then, I gave fencing more attention and time, I evolved too fast, and word spread around because fencing requires too much mental-physical coordination. I played in 3 different age groups at the same season. I received my first medal was when I was playing in under 20, I was 17 at that time, and I was also playing in under 17, and the senior division. When I moved to play in only under 20 and senior, I always won in both divisions.” 

Falling to Fly

Nardine won many national, African, and Arab cups and championship. In 2014 she went through a hard drop in her life. “My father passed away. He was the one who always motivated me and came along all my trainings and championships. After a few months, I realized he would want me to go on, and he wouldn’t be pleased with my surrender. There was a championship that would affect my ranking if I didn’t play, I participated and by both chance and dedication, I won 1st place. It felt like this win is for him, a thank you beyond the clouds.”

“I did feel his absence, and it affected my effort and spirit, I trained much less for a while. In 2015, I won the first international medal in women’s history until today!  I ranked 3rd World cup in Italy. This was something massive in Egypt, that an Egyptian woman would attain a global medal. This one too, is for my dad.”

Journey after Journey 

“I started the Olympics qualification journey, however there was a bit of chaos and I didn’t qualify. I started training and coaching fitness for my fencing practice, and teaching others fitness and fencing footwork. A while after, the pandemic happened and we all got stuck at home. We always had our Italian coaches training us nonetheless, making us follow programs until things slowly started to get back to normal.”

Breaking through

“I got a knee injury in one of the fitness camps in Hurghada, but it wasn’t from fencing, it was from warm-up, I was kicked in the knee by accident while playing warm up soccer. The injury happened by the end of August, and I was expected to participate in the Olympics qualification championship in Russia, around 12 months later, in September. I was left with 2 options; either to postpone the surgery and risk more damage, or to go through with the surgery and hope to recover in time to play. I chose the latter.”

A leap of Fencing

“I went through my surgery, and I did my rehab in Physiocure. Ignite’s co-founder Hussien Abdeldayem was supposed to help me practice strength and conditioning around 2 months before my championship. He was fascinated with my strong background in fitness, weights and movements, and he asked to speak with me later. Abdeldayem offered me to join ignite, the funny thing is, 3 years earlier, Khaled Azouz, ignite partner, sent me a direct message on Instagram to move (I’m Alexandrian) to Cairo and join ignite. I said no because I didn’t want to leave my club or coaching job. “

“I did my surgery in Cairo, so I had to do my rehab in Cairo for a while. I accepted and joined to try and see how it goes, I used to intern and train at Ignite. That March (7 months post-surgery), I couldn’t play since I was still healing. The team replaced me with another player, we unfortunately didn’t win, so we didn’t qualify for the Olympics. I started working and coaching at Ignite. I currently train in the national team, and I coach at Ignite lakeview.”

Heart to Mind

“My mom is a huge support system, she’s always got my back and constantly tries to remind me of my dad’s motivation and support, filling in both shoes.  I’m also greatly thankful to the Egyptian Fencing Federation, especially the president Abdelmoneim El Hosseni for the immense support.

Fencing is part of me. without it I feel strangely incomplete. I have so much energy and liveliness. I have ADHD and it’s difficult to just perform mediocrely. I was always super active, super invested, and incredibly passionate about what I do, and I’m eager to help others achieve their own goals. During my injury I felt how It is that my leg’s malfunction is limiting, now I can train and coach and fence and travel and compete! Thankful, hopeful, and blessed!”

“The difference between the great and the mediocre is that the great are willing to take the risk.”

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