Corine Van Emmerik, 24, is doing a PHD in Sociology, and is competing in the Fencing (Women’s) Weapon – Sabre, at BUCS Nationals 2019…
Q. So have you been involved with BUCS before?
A. No, I’ve never competed at BUCS but I’m very excited to meet all the teams who are coming together from different universities and competing over the course of the weekend.
Q. You’re competing in the fencing event – what does this involve?
A. There are three different weapons in fencing (and they all have different rules). I use the sabre, which is the only weapon that uses slashing movements. I would say sabre is the most intense weapon – it’s really fast! It’s definitely a niche sport.
Q. How did you get into fencing?
A. It was about five years ago. I already loved hockey, tennis and ballet and I was ready to try something else. Fencing is a very strategic sport - it’s like chess on steroids! It’s a bit like ballet too, because of the footwork. It just goes so fast and you need to think on your feet and have your movements ready – and that’s what I enjoy because it just goes so fast. You need to be on top of your game and to make it work within such a short amount of time.
Q. How will you prepare ahead of the competition?
A. I’m quite superstitious so I always put on my right sock, then my left, then my right shoe, then my left shoe. It’s definitely important to stay calm because you can get quite worked up. It’s such a high adrenalin sport, but you really need to focus on what’s happening. You need to not be influenced by your nerves so it’s mainly all about staying calm.
Q. What training are you doing this week and what areas of your body will you focus on?
A. Everything! You need to be physically strong, especially your core because balance is key and you can easily topple forwards. Sometimes, especially when I fence with men, they tend to fence with a lot of strength, so they want to win with that strength but it means you get a lot of bruises, even though you’re wearing the protective gear! I also run a lot and go to Pilates, which is really good for stretching and flexibility. It’s just a different way to work your muscles.
Q. Do you have any rivals with other students from universities who might be at BUCS?
A. There are definitely people you come across and see at competitions who are quite competitive and very good – it’s all a mind game, so we shall see! I tend to look at my opponents as a tool for me to get better because it’s a kind of mental blockage if you’re too desperate to beat the other person.
Q. How do you think you’ll do and where would you like to place?
A. In 2017 I was number one in the Netherlands (where I’m from) and that was quite cool. It was a good season. Otherwise I’ve been third or whatnot so I’m up there. I’m going to try my very best to get a medal! I like to win and to push myself. If I think someone else can do it, then I don’t see why I can’t too.
Q. How do you feel about being part of the growth of high-performance sport at Goldsmiths?
A. I feel honoured to be part of it, haha! I think it’s really special that Goldsmiths supports you and your dreams because fencing can be quite an expensive sport and it helps a lot to have that support. I think it’s great that all of this is in place to help students realise their ambitions, even for such a niche sport.
Q. What will you do to celebrate?
A. Drink beer! Usually, when there’s a big competition coming up, I won’t drink the week before. It then feels so great to have a pint after you’ve won. That’s the ultimate way to celebrate, along with a nice shower!