Vassiliki Vougiouka’s Olympic dream continues
The disappointment of missing out on a medal in London in 2012 has not dampened the Olympic dream of Greek fencer Vassiliki Vougiouka, whose Olympic Solidarity Scholarship has helped her preparations for the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
How did you get started in fencing?
I started fencing at the age of 10, when a coach came to my school to demonstrate the sport. I was excited from the first minute!
What does your training programme involve?
My programme includes fitness training such as running, stretching, weights and strength and power exercises, practice bouts, and lessons with my coach, sometimes using video analysis.
What is your proudest achievement?
Winning the World Cup event in London in 2012 before the Olympic Games.
I watched athletics and fencing at the Olympic Games Athens 2004, and I remember the Greek athletes competing and the outstanding support from the spectators. The atmosphere was sensational – especially when a Greek athlete won a medal. Afterwards, I wanted to experience it as an athlete myself.
How would you describe the experience of competing at the Olympic Games in London in 2012?
It will always remain deeply embedded in my mind. It was a great experience to be among the most successful athletes in the world. We lived in a wonderful Olympic Village, were all equal and were sharing the Olympic values such as peace, respect and friendship. I was sure I could win a medal, but I finished fifth after suffering an accident during a preliminary bout on the day of the competition, where I broke two teeth. As a result, my breathing was affected and I became tired more easily, and I lost my quarter-final bout against Jiyeon Kim (KOR), who went on to win the gold medal. At the time I had mixed emotions but, looking back, I only have good memories of those Games. I learned not to give up.
It has helped my career significantly. Equipment and training camps abroad are expensive, so the support that I’ve received from the Olympic Solidarity Programme has been essential. I have been able to attend training camps with the best fencers from around the world, with all of us aiming to qualify for the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
What are your targets for the Olympic Games Rio 2016?
My goals are to enjoy the competition and to finish among the first eight places.