In February 2016, Amita Berthier and her teammates made fencing history by winning Singapore’s first-ever women’s cadet team gold at the Asian Junior and Cadet Fencing Championships in Bahrain. The victory was a bittersweet one for Amita, a student-athlete of Singapore Sports School, because it came just three weeks after the tragic loss of her father, 51-year-old Eric Berthier, who died after a fall at his workplace.
Amita fought bravely through her personal pain and tragedy, thwarting top-ranked competitors from Hong Kong and South Korea to clinch a double gold: Singapore’s first-ever gold medal in the Under-17 category in addition to winning the women’s team event. “My father’s passing came as a shock to all of us. What drives me now is that win or lose, I want to fence well for my father – that’s all that matters. He will always be my tower of strength and inspiration.” More recently in April 2016, Amita represented Singapore once again and participated in the World Junior and Cadet Championships in Bourges, France, where she distinguished herself by finishing sixth out of 88 participants in her category.
Amita is a beneficiary of the EW Barker Endowment administered by Temasek Education Foundation (TEF), which aims to nurture young talent not only in the area of sports but also in mathematics, science, arts and music. In the case of the Sports School, TEF funds overseas training and helps student-athletes like Amita to compete in international championships throughout the year.
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About Fencing in Singapore
Fencing first appeared in Singapore with the founding of the ‘Amateur Fencing Association of Singapore’ in 1955, later renamed ‘Fencing Singapore’. The sport has grown progressively with Singaporean fencers competing at Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games and World Championships over the years, winning bronze, silver and eventually gold medals. Since 2006, thanks to the National Inter-School Fencing Championships youth participation in schools has surged and today, several new fencing clubs and associations have opened-up. Many attractive programmes are available for participants who want to improve their flexibility, strength, speed and learn to practice a sport that has been around since the dawn of times, or as long as men have been fighting wars.
About Singapore as a regional sports hub
In recent years, Singapore has come to value the importance of sports and the positive impact it has on its growth. Ten years ago, many wouldn’t have imagined the possibility of Singapore playing host to such world-class sporting events as the Singapore Grand Prix, Singapore Open and Youth Olympic Games. These events have not only helped to redefine Singapore as a global destination, they, along with other domestic and regional sporting events, have proven to be a winning formula for the nation’s tourism and sports industry strategies. The 2014 inauguration of Singapore’s state-of-the-art Sports Hub and its more recent successful hosting of the 2015 Southeast Asian Games helped seal the Lion City’s leadership position as the main sporting hub in the region.
Did you know…
Modern fencing uses three weapons and is divided into three competitive scenes: foil, sabre and epée. Most (but not all) competitive fencers choose to specialise in one of these only (Amita has chosen foil). Competitive fencing is one of five activities that have been featured in every one of the modern Olympic Games, the other four being athletics, cycling, gymnastics and swimming.