Kolbe takes her final stab at fencing

Ryerson's top fencer, Joanna Kolbe, says she will leave the sport after the OUA Championship on Feb. 8. Sebastian Novais / Ryersonian Staff

Ryerson’s top fencer, Joanna Kolbe, says she will leave the sport after the OUA Championship on Feb. 8.
(Sebastian Novais/Ryersonian staff)

Joanna Kolbe will pick up her sword one last time for Ryerson on Feb. 8.

Heading into her fourth Ontario University Athletics (OUA) women’s fencing championship, where she has won gold for three straight years, Kolbe is looking to relax after her last tournament.“I decided to quit a long time ago, so I’m pretty much going to finish fencing,” said Kolbe.

That may seem surprising, given Kolbe is one of Ryerson’s best athletes.Her accolades stack up with the best, having been named 2013 Ryerson’s H.H. Kerr Female Athlete of the Year, and received three prior nominations and three OUA gold medals.

“This year I am trying to have more fun,” said Kolbe. “I don’t treat it as serious as I did before. I’m not putting too much pressure on myself, but I still want to do well.”After this season is finished, the fourth-year computer science student doesn’t see herself continuing to fence. Kolbe said she wants to spend more time focusing on her future, which might include further education. She applied to graduate school for computer science at the University of Toronto.

Having fenced since the age of 12, Kolbe is at the top of her game in épée fencing. The sport of fighting with swords is broken up into three weapons categories: épée, foil and sabre.
Her style, épée, uses a stiffer blade and the entire body is a valid target area. Even a tap of the wrist or the toe of a shoe can count as a point.

Kolbe likes to call herself a more laid-back player. “Everyone has their own style of fencing. I would say that I am pretty passive,” she said. “I don’t attack much, I mostly try to defend myself and use other people’s mistakes against them. I’m a smart and lazy fencer.”

With the women’s championships just around the corner, Kolbe isn’t putting too much pressure on herself to win a fourth straight gold. “My coaches and everyone are expecting me to do well,” said Kolbe. “I’ve been focusing more on school and work. My goal is top four, but I see myself coming top eight.”

With that prediction, Kolbe’s humble personality shines through, but don’t make the mistake of taking her lightly. She still wants to win.
“You always want to win, right,” she said. “You always try to win your next match.”

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on January 29, 2014.

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