HOUSTON—At an international fencing camp of 90 athletes , 16-year-old Ariel Simmons of Houston stands out. Not just because of his patriotic “red, white and blue” mask but also because he’s the only one who possesses a gold medal from the recent Cadet Fencing World Championships in Croatia.
Simmons is the first American to win the championship since 2006 and only the second American to ever win the event.
“It’s very humbling for sure,” said Simmons. “It was a lot of fun. The experience was overwhelming.”
Now, though, he’s learning how to deal with the title. Every time he enters the gym, his opponents have extra incentive to beat him.
“There’s a target way bigger than there ever was on your back. Everyone wants to beat you and you constantly have to keep that in mind, more than being the World Champion,” Simmons said.
The average age of an Olympic Fencer is 26 years old, so at age 16, Ariel has a ways to go. Still having won a World Championship adds to his credentials, as he obviously has the potential to get to the Olympics.
“Everybody dreams of going to the Olympics. That would be so cool. I would love it. Maybe I can go to Rio or maybe 2020. I just want to work to that because that’s everyone’s ultimate goal,” said Simmons.
In the meantime this student of Carnegie Vanguard High School will continue to work on his skill-set in hopes of attracting a college scholarship.