Amita Berthier makes history as Singapore’s first female fencer to ever compete at the Olympics. She also happens to be the first local fencer to qualify for the event. But the young fencer has made it known that her achievements are not only hers but her parents as well.
“They didn’t know what the outcome would be like in five to 10 years. The fact that they had so much faith and so much support for me, I owe everything to my mum and dad,” Berthier tells CNA as she opens up about her whole story.
Her Dream Sport: How Amita Berthier Came To Take Up Fencing
Image source: Notre Dame Athletics website
Amita Berthier believes she got her competitive spirit from both her parents. She says that sportsmanship does run in her genes with her mum Uma a former runner and her late dad Eric who did judo as well as several other sports.
“I’m pretty competitive when it comes to a lot of things, especially like card games with my family… Anything I do, I want to win,” says Berthier.
It was in primary school when Amita and her sister Aarya were first introduced to fencing. During this time, Amita was still playing soccer but the sport wasn’t offered at Raffles’ Girls Primary School where she attended. So like a twist of fate, she took up fencing instead.
“It’s such a fun sport. There obviously are rules, but you can make up your own actions… You’re fighting against someone – to me as a seven-year-old, it was an amazing sport, my dream sport,” she says.
Berthier’s interest in the Olympics rose with the influence of one of her former coaches Ralf Bissdorf who is a silver medalist at the 2000 Olympic Games.
“I think that’s what planted my interest in the Olympics and wanting to take fencing to a higher stage in my life, actually taking it seriously. He would share about his experience – he became Olympic silver medalist the year that I was born too, which was super cool. I was like: ‘Woah it’s meant to be’,” Amita shares.
After graduating from the Singapore Sports School in 2016, the young fencer and her parents decided that she would move to the United States to train full-time. While she struggled with homesickness at times, she says her family still did a very good job of checking up on her.
Young Fencer Makes History: Winning The Qualifying Event At The Olympics
Amita Berthier continued to hone her craft and pursue her dreams. All in just one year at 2017, she managed to win:
- Bronze at the World Junior and Cadet Championships
- Gold in the SEA Games women’s singles foil
- Silver at the Guatemala Junior World Cup
- Gold at the Havana Junior World Cup
When the 20-year-old scored the final point during the qualifying event, she fell to the ground and screamed in triumph. She recalls how it was only until she was back at her hotel that she realised what she had just achieved.
It didn’t immediately hit her that she just made history.
Berthier Owes Everything To Her Parents
Image source: Facebook / Fencing Singapore
Amita’s mother is one of her biggest inspirations. She shares how her mum has been a huge supporter and has inspired her as “she is so strong” that it helps her get through the hard days.
Her father was also one of her biggest supporters as he loved sports and the Olympics. It excited him just to see his daughter at an international level.
“We would always watch the Olympics together, every single sport. We’d sit there and watch it together. That’s also where my huge love of sports came from because my dad was such an avid supporter of all sorts of sports,” she tells CNA.
Amita’s dad died in 2016 and during that time, she wrote a note and slipped it into his coffin. The note held a promise that she would someday qualify for the Olympics.
Berthier managed to keep her promise as she just won the qualifying rounds. She admits that her first thought when she won was to thank her late father. She says, “I knew he helped me win this because I knew that the only way I was going to win this was literally with God and my dad helping me.”
The young fencer also says she owes everything to her mum and dad who “had so much faith and so much support” for her that she doesn’t know how she could “ever pay them back.”
As Amita Berthier takes her next step to fulfil her dreams at the Olympics Games, her entire family will once again be watching over her.
Lead image source from Instagram / fencingsingapore.
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