Mark Peros: Diary of a Fencer

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pan-Am Championships 2012

Cancun Mexico - June 2012.
The last chance to qualify anyone for London.
USA vs Canada in the final. 
USA 45 Canada 35
La Fin.

Monday, November 15, 2010

2010 World Championships - Paris

An epic trip of 30 days in Europe, where do I start?! There is something to be said about doing what you love that is uncomparable to any enjoyable daily routine. So much, that its even hard to put into words sometimes. When you're given a task, whether it have a schedule or not, and you love every moment of trying to acheive the end goal of that task it becomes an adventure all in its own. Many of the European athletes are blind sided by how North Americans do sport out of passion rather than livelihood. They believe that it brings a different frame of mind when competing - a no stress attitude - because whether you win or lose, in the end, you still get to keep your job. That is hardly the case. Our support structure is financially based and our goal is to win, like any other focused athlete. The mental stress is constantly there, the physical pains are constantly there and the desire to succeed amounts to much more because we, ourselves, are the only ones responsible for our path. Of course, it would be nice to be a professional athlete, that's a given, but there is a certain charm about amateur sports - its humbling in a way!
2010 World Championships - Paris. Our build up to the event went from Montreal to Germany, back to Montreal then to Belarus and then finally Paris. Preparation for such a big event takes about a month and a half to get into peak form, both physically and mentally. Its not easy cutting yourself off from the rest of the world practically and putting all your focus on a single thing....(especailly when you're also trying to run a business)! I've got to admit though, living in a sport compound on the other side of the world is painfully draining - in the middle of the woods with nothing else around. Oh how lucky we are to live in Canada! Twice a day training, with three meals a day doesn't leave you with much energy in the evenings - so when the internet works its basically all that you count on doing ....did I say this was going to be fun!
Arriving in Paris at Le Grand Palais was almost dream like. There are only a handful of coutry's that can host this event and host it well. A total of 9 days of events, both team and individual. Group photo's, media breakfasts, cheering on other team members, interviews, registration, signing autographs - is all required but still you have to maintain the focus up to the day of your event. Crucial in fact. But it does make it more exciting - for everyone! Result time. I had a very tough pool the first day which was unplanned and went 3 victory's and 3 defeats. I then faced Tunisian champion
El Habib and won the match 15-11 with confidence - which put me into the final day against world number 5 Luigi Tarantino. At 38 years old he is the oldest fencer on the circut but a true talent and the most experienced. We rally'd back and forth but in front of a crowd of 6000 fans I layed my sabre to rest with a dissapointing loss 9-15. Gigi had my number that day. We spend all the time and effort preparing for that day and sometimes you can never predict what may or may not happen. Everyone is in the same vote - everyone wants to win - but only one champion can come out of it at then end. I was pleased with the result as my goal was only for one round after that ...will I learn from it, absolutely ...will I remember it, without a doubt ...will I want a rematch, NO QUESTION!! Home now. Ready for a break. Time for some beers. Let's do it!
Ps - thanks Neill for making it from London to support me - a true gesture of freindship.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Spain - Italy - New York!

May and June found me on a total travel frenzy, so I've decided to combine the blog posts and pictures together to end the season for us. The best World Cup of the season is definitely Madrid. It has everything I could ask for. A perfectly well run competition, great hotel, beautiful weather and amazing friends. I know I've mentioned this several times before but this trip wouldn't be the same without our Spanish friends. They welcome us to their country like family. We've acquired our usual spots when it came to dining and social hour and made sure there was an evening out at the Restaurant 'Campeon'. Their specialty....garlic mushrooms with jamon. Mixed into the evening was some really funny karaoke....especially when Olympic Medallist Tim Morehouse (USA) did 'his' version of 'New York, New York'!!!
Sorry Tim, almost as good as Ol' Blue Eyes! I know I make this all sound like a vacation but really its not. We are only allowed a few days and nights off during training and curfew this trip was 11pm. Not easy, especially when the Spanish don't serve dinner until that hour. I did manage to make it to my first bullfight though, and what a scene it was! Talk about tradition....this is dating back hundreds of years and I can swear everything from the stadium to the dress and the actions of killing the bull haven't changed since the beginning. There are a few good pictures to tell the story of my week.
The week later took us to Padova, Italy. A tiny town tucked quietly 40min outside of Venice. I really don't have many exciting adventures from Padova since we were only there for 4 days. It was nothing but resting in our hotel, eating thin crust pizza from the corner store and preparing for the competition. One thing the Italians do know how to do is put on a classy competition. Sponsored by Luxardo and Porsche, it makes love at first sight that much more possible. See picture of me and Mr. Luxardo, the nicest man in the entire world!
Finally, after spending a week at home we made our way to New York for a training camp and the final competition of the season. With some connections (yes, fencers can be somewhat cool) we managed to stay at the New York Athletic Club while training that week. Located at the base of Central Park its the perfect location for doing anything you want. If you haven't been, Central Park is the utmost happiest and energetic park I've ever had the pleasure to run in. The amount of people using it for personal exercises, team rec-sports, horse back riding, sitting in the meadow having lunch and sun-bathing or taking a carousel ride (like Kyle and I did) is nothing but outstanding. It truly is a heavenly place. And what is New York without a celebrity my case walking into a tiny late-night dive bar in Soho and having a drink and conversation with Lady Gaga. Priceless!
As for fencing....I had 1 out of 3 good competitions to finish off the season. I must say a little disappointing from the strong and confident beginning I had. Keeping that feeling up for 6 months is hard, and now that I've had the experience of winning more it doesn't feel good not to win all the time. In short, I don't like losing. Especially with thousands and thousands of training hours behind me. But again, that is why I love it too! I must give thanks to those who helped me through the season even with the tiniest of efforts. Coach Mirkin, Rhonzin and massage and physio girls Sandy and Sandra.....Pilate's specialist Amy nutritionist Trionne Moore and of course my parents for worrying about me every trip! Its been a two week break and I've had the time to reflect a lot and relax my body and mind. But a break should only last so long and with next season being the pre-Olympic year there is much work ahead. I also feel a lifestyle change is in order. Life is good and I'm learning to accept certain things about myself. Could that actually be called never know, so stay tuned my friends. Thanks for reading and see you in September.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The not so good competition...

Well, at least I'm back in one piece. Sometimes life throws us things we can't really explain. They just happen. The first leg of our trip was to Dormagen, Germany to train with some of the German National Team. Dormagen is a relatively small city, 15 min outside of Dusseldorf, which was built for the Bayer Aspirin Factory. With a population of about 55,000 most people work for Bayer. Bayer then owns a majority of the town and supports the other smaller businesses...while also sponsoring all the sports teams in the area. The city's Athletic Centre is the best I've ever seen and runs like clockwork. The twice a day training was great and sharing a physical trainer with the German Handball team brought a new direction in how fit fencers should really be....I still have a sore back! We all realized that if you want to excel at a sport full time then the small secluded city is the way to go.....there are no distractions and everyone supports you. Anyways, it was a super experience and with every German fencer standing over 6'2" tall and built like cargo trains it was well worth it.
Second leg was to Tunisia for the third Grand Prix of the season. Last years trip to Tunis wasn't the most organized so we were hoping for a rebirth of the African Zonal competition. The hotel was better than we all expected, from first glance. Yes it was big, yes it looked like a holiday get-away and yes, it had a water slide and two pools...but that was about it. Part of the arrangement was that meals were included. They had a dinner hall that served a buffet, but everyday it was exactly the same and they only served coffee as the beverage?! By day 2 we were already bored of the food but there was no other option (except to stop eating) and that wasn't an option at all!
The first two nights I was there I didn't sleep well....but thought nothing of it. What I didn't know was that the 3rd and 7Th days of any travel are the worst for jet lag. The night before the competition (the 7Th day) was just terrible, on a biological level, and I ended up rolling around my bed until 6am in the morning. It didn't help either that there was a Night Club right next door to my room that only opens for Saturday nights....and it just happened to be Saturday night. I got up an hour later feeling like a wreck with a headache and lazy muscles. I was hoping some food and plenty of water would get me back on target but alas, the 'Man' upstairs had a plan for me that day.....and 'He' wasn't changing it. Fencing is one of those unique sports that takes Mind, Body and Spirit to succeed. With one of those missing you might as well be sitting on the bench. I wasn't alone though, strangely I counted 12 fencers who are ranked in the top 32 in the World who also didn't make it out of the first round....but I can't comment on how they slept the night before. Sure, I can come up with a hand full of excuses of why I had a bad result, or I can just say that it wasn't my day. Everyone has bad days from time to time and there are no excuses and there are no explanations, its just life. But there is no doubt its humbling and without knowing how to lose you can't win. This all sounds like maybe I should write a book on philosophy?! We have a month and a half off now until our next competition so I will use this time to have few days break and think about my goals for the second half of the season and how I'm going to achieve them. Our limitations and success will be based, most often, on our own expectations for ourselves. What the mind dwells upon, the body acts upon......blah, blah, where is my incense....?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Budapest - Moscow Extravaganza!

A Two week trip. Always tough to settle in, and by the time you get properly accustomed to life its time to go home. Beautiful Hungary was the first destination and Budapest, as always, welcomed us. No doubt apartment living is much better than hotel, especially in Europe. And now we know the city almost as well as our own things become much easier and a system happens that helps the comfort level. For instance, Training at Vasas during the day, dinner at Via Luna in the evenings and packs of 10 tickets for the metro bought from the landlord of the apartment for 10% cheaper than at the station....perfecto!

This tournament is always the first Grande Prix of the season. But even though it's the first doesn't mean it's the easiest. Rather, all the teams are there to make a statement and when you see country's like Italy and Russia warming up for an hour longer than usual you know something is up.

I went 4/2 in the pool round, got a "bye" and then won my first Direct Elimination round match 15/14 over Belgian fencer Seppe Van Holsbeke. Standing at 6'4" he caused many problems, especially with his reach but with my new found focus and concentration I played it exactly as planned and made the last touch. The next day I was up against US Olympian and motivational speaker Tim Morehouse. Ranked in the top 16 in the world I had never fenced him before in competition but new his game quite well from watching clips on "YouTube"......or as some say "Internet cheating"! I lost 12/15 but gave him a bout he will never forget. Great first result for me!

We spent the rest of the week training and hanging out in the Buda. Honestly, I don't think we left our neighbourhood once....and when Kyle says "nothing on the Internet tonight" you can obviously imagine how many hours were spent inside, ha!

Flying back to Frankfurt only to take another plane to Moscow turned a 3hr trip into a 13hr trip.
That was rough. Arriving into Russia with -20 degrees and snowy with big heavy fencing bags is not fun.....and then 45min bus ride to the hotel. This is the second time I've been to Russia and I was still amazed how hard it is to get anything done. Life is not easy there...nore is trying to get a pork schnitzel ordered to your room. I think it took me 2.5 hours, 25 phone calls to room service and 3 visits to the manager......and then the ice cream wasn't even free?!

Once again I made 4/2 in my pool. Went through to the next round but this time lost 14/15 to Russian Fencer Matvey Matushkin who just also happens to be fluent in French. We battled it out in front of his home crowd and at times I couldn't even hear the referee the cheers from the stands were so loud (obviously not for me). Still, I was pleased with the bout and how I structured it. Right now that is what I'm focused to win by thinking. Team event went better than expected and we went 2/2 absolutely crushing the Japanese 45/29. I was last to fence, the most important spot, and proved that even after a long day (and 12 days of traveling) that with determination and the will to fight anything is possible.

Letting loose (another aspect of how to unwind) a few of us made it out to one of the biggest clubs in Moscow called LONDON. That was an experience in its own. With "face control" in full effect I've never seen so many beautiful people in one room in my entire life. No wonder drinks were $15. I'll leave it up to your imagination as to what happened but all I will say is that it was EPIC!

On the way home I ran into Daniel Nestor in the lounge in Frankfurt. We ate yogurt together and he signed my boarding pass!!!......we were on the same flight home to Toronto but he didn't want to give up his First Class seat.....hey, if I had one I wouldn't either, ha!
Germany and Tunisia next month. Keeping it real! Ciao

Monday, January 18, 2010

Almost one year later....

There is no excuse my friends.....busy, lazy and just living a precarious but happy life has caused me to fall behind in letting you know just what has happened this past year in the life of a! Last we spoke it was Tunis I returned from. And to follow was the extended trip to Madrid and Padoua. That is where I left you hanging. To be honest, the fencing part is a blur but with pictures like these I can only remember the fun and friends that were had. I will leave it to the photos to help you get a sense of what it was like. I was lucky to have both my brother and sister meet me in they were traveling on to Croatia to visit the Peros village while I had to return to Canada for business and personal reasons.

Later that year, the decision to send 2 juniors to the World Championships in Turkey, in replace of the two more senior teammates (one being me) was a very bold but important move. Its always a fine line between how you generate experience in the younger ones who are developing and the older ones who guide the team. But the acceptance is a part of any high performance sport and we must focus on 'team' which is the future.

Since last fall, we have bought into a new Russian coach who is very excited about the move to Canada. This last weekend our first tournament took us to San Jose, California for a North American Cup. I must admit that I feel like I'm in a new frame of mind this year. In my head the stars are beginning to align a lot more and the wise words from my father are starting to hold true...."sabre fencers tend to mature later in life". The confidence I had on the strip this weekend was overwhelming....even with a convention hall of on-lookers I felt in control of my actions. On top of that, physically I feel great. All the early morning runs and intervals are paying off...not to mention the continued massages, yoga and ice baths, that makes me cringe to even think about, ha). For the first competition of the season I placed 12th of 167 (the best result of any non-American) and came home proud that I'm still in the game. This is going to be my season folks. Along with that business is on the 'ups' and family and friends are better than ever. I hope you can be here for the ride! Here are some pics from Europe, but sadly none from San Jose. Next week its a training camp in NYC with the Americans and the week after we're off to Budapest and Moscow two Grand Prix events. This is going to BIIGGGG!!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tunis and back again.

Probably one of the quickest trips I've taken thus far. Arriving in Tunis on Thursday afternoon yet another three day adventure awaited me. Imagine walking into your hotel room and nearly falling over as you enter the doorway. We called it the "leaning hotel of Pisa", even though it was in Tunisia and the hotel was called The Bahy!~~I think I roughly estimated the slope at being over a foot and a half difference from doorway to least the bathroom had hot water this time!
Strictly a World Cup event, different from a Grand Prix which has a Team event, Philippe and I traveled alone. With Algeria canceled next weekend it was a good way to try and gain some world cup points. Fencing wise, I'm definitely in a consistent mode right now and feeling about 80% smart. Finishing with yet another 47th place in the world I feel content, yes, but my best has yet to come. Thanks Sandra for all those grueling massages you put me through twice a week, my legs are feeling at least 4 years younger!
We ran into our old friend from SENEGAL named KEITA who hardly travels outside of his African continent. After seeing this picture I never thought that maybe I had a twin out there somewhere....except I need more of a tan!!!
The streets of Tunis were far from clean and calm but without a doubt interesting. Its habitants selling anything they could from blenders to wonder I didn't find any shopping malls. Endless traffic with no street lights or signs and I could swear the Tunisians have an addiction with honking, it was just the thing to do.
The most populated spots are the Suks (which mean markets). Each Suk is devoted to one particular trade. The shops within the Suks are small cubes, open in the front, in which the trader squats cross-legged amidst his wares. Perfumes, carpets and cloths, saddlery and jewelry are most common. The Suks were formerly slave markets that surrounded the Mosques and now are more touristy than before.
Saturday afternoon at the Suks our guide brought us to the top of a carpet factory which looked over the city. An old mosaic archway stood erected as he explained that if we pass under this archway when we return home Allah will bless us with 15 wives. Of course I JUMPED at the opportunity (what guy wouldn't) and was the first to let fate have its way!!!
By end of this grand tour, our guide who helped take many of these lovely pictures for us....(Philippe, Pablo (from Spain) and his girl).....he was not leaving empty handed and requested we buy something from his brothers shop. With due respect we granted him and his God that wish.
Lucky to say the least. Still I am 'blessed' with the opportunity to do something I love which takes me to parts of the world I wouldn't normally visit. And STILL it makes me chuckle when I can post pictures for you of those timeless instances that I come across. This time in the Tunis airport at 345am....nope, the Duty Free Shop was closed, or should I say THE DUFRY SHOP.
Well, its Sunday afternoon and I'm home. Staring out the front window patiently waiting for my 15 wives to arrive....still, it doesn't matter how long I wait because I'd be happy enough with just one!