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USA Fencing: Susie Scanlan Takes Break From Princeton To Chase Olympic Dream

Susie Scanlan knew she had to choose between a normal college life and a shot at the Olympics.


St. Paul Native Susie Scanlan is on hiatus from school. Not because it's the summer, but because Princeton doesn't offer a fencing major.

Scanlan, 22, was already one of the nation's best epeeists -- a term for fencers -- when she landed at Princeton. She was part of the gold medal-winning U.S. teams at the 2008 and 2009 junior world championships.

But her dueling interests in fencing and school didn't mesh. From The Star Tribune:

...Scanlan eventually had to make a difficult choice. She was doing homework on buses in Bratislava and in hotels in Qatar. During finals week of her freshman year at Princeton, she stayed up until 4 a.m. to finish a paper before flying to China -- only to be detained and quarantined upon her arrival, with her exhaustion misjudged as swine flu. With the 2012 Olympics becoming a realistic goal, something had to give.

"In fencing, it's important that you have no distractions," said Zoltan Dudas, Scanlan's coach at Princeton. "If in the back of your mind, you're thinking about the exam you have next week, that's a lot of distraction. And Susie did not want her academics to suffer. Ro, Susie and I all agreed it was not possible for her to be in school and qualify for the Olympics."

So in the spring of 2011, Scanlan decided to take a few years off from school. That was, after all, the only way the St. Paul Central graduate could get in her five- to six-hour daily workouts -- a regimen that helped earn her a trip to London.

Besides, Princeton will be there after the Olympics.

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Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.