Fencing Star Spotlight: Mara Navarria (ITA)
Mara Navarria is the top women’s epee fencer in the world today, having won the 2018 World Championships in Wuxi, China. The 33-year-old Italian fencer from Rome also serves in the Italian Army and studied sports science at the University of Rome. She gave us some personal insight to her personal and fencing life.
FIE: How did you become a fencer?
MN: I became a fencer when I was 10. My brother was fencing while I practiced canoeing.
FIE: What or who has been the greatest influence in your life as a fencer?
MN: Giovanna Trillini was my first important autograph. During the first Olympics I saw as a child, she defeated a Chinese athlete, and I can’t forget that. Today I’m honored to say I consider her a friend, and I ask her for advice and try to get ideas. At 18, during my first time on the Italian National Team, I got ideas from Elisa Uga, Manuela Zalaffi and Cristina Cascioli. My fencing masters, Dario Codarin, Oleg Pouzanov and Roberto Cirillo forged me. Today, with Roberto, I really enjoy myself when I fence. I create my own show, even if my master is a pefectionist in taking care of details … and this is the beautiful part of fencing.
FIE: What are a few of your best fencing experiences?
MN: Fencing is travelling the world and being friends with people from many different cultures. I try to visit the places where we have our competitions and to understand each place. For example, every time I go to Budapest, a place I’ve been going to for 15 years, I try to find some photographic expositions or exhibits to visit. Another beautiful experience was the London Olympics Opening Ceremony.
FIE: What do you consider your best achievement as a fencer?
MN: My world cup victory in Tallin in 2017. I felt free and quiet, and I did my “show” from a technical point of view. I was difficult to understand for my competitors … and I really enjoyed the event! At the end of the piste was my fencing master, Roberto Cirillo, and I felt in that moment that there was a special connection between us.
FIE: Tell us about your last season – 2017-2018?
MN: This has been my best season. At the beginning was the victory in Tallin and at the end my gold medal in Wuxi, and in-between, a Grand Prix victory in Budapest and silver medal in Doha. This was the result of a schedule working with Roberto Cirillo; my breathing trainer, Rosarita Gagliardo; my trainer, Andrea Lo Coco; and my mental coach, Alessandro Vergendo. This year I played all my cards.
FIE: How does it feel to be World Champion?
MN: Being a world champion makes me feel good, proud of where I have arrived, but aware that we can always improve. I stood alone on the Wuxi podium but brought a lot of people with me: My family, son Samuele, friends and all those who helped improve and train me. I wasn’tt entirely aware of what I did; it was from the faces of others I perceived the magnitude of the result achieved. Many people and, above all, many athletes stopped me to say "you deserve it". I felt like a "proud Mum".
FIE: Other than competing, what have you done with fencing?
MN: I am studying to become a fencing master. I have a degree in [physical] motor sciences, specializing in preventive and adapted motor activity. I would like to work with children. For four years together with Paolo Pizzo, Luigi Samele, Enrico Berrè and Andrea Lo Coco I founded the Fencing Lab, which is a summer fencing camp for children aged nine to 17.
FIE: What has been your biggest challenges as a top-level fencer?
MN: To reach a completion of technique and improve myself in the execution of tactical and technical elements.
FIE: What are your goals and dreams for your fencing career, going forward?
MN: To win the Olympics individually and with the team.
FIE: What kind of music do you listen to? Who is your favorite musician/band/etc.?
MN: Depeche Mode, Elisa, Meganoidi, Radiohead, Franz Ferdinand, Buena Vista Social Club, Deodato
FIE: What is your favorite food?
MN: Seafood Risotto, prepared by my husband Andrea
FIE: What are your favorite movies?
MN: Pretty Woman, Frida, The Devil Wears Prada, The Big Lebowsky, Amelie
FIE: For you, who is the biggest fencing star of all time?
MN: I do not have just one hero, for every science I have someone from whom I draw inspiration.
FIE: Do you have a motto? What is it?
MN: Dreams exist and are realized with the heart. This phrase means sacrifice, dedication, passion and obviously talent take you where you want to go. I believed it and my world and world cup medal took me home!