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How taking a step back helped Olympic Fencer Nzingha Prescod prepare for Rio

Posted on August 10 2016

Olympic silver medalist and Physiclo co-founder, Keeth Smart understands the importance of preparing for a competition. Keeth made it his mission to help many of the Rio athletes maximize their training by outfitting them with Physiclo's resistance technology.

We also sat down with several of the athletes including Rio 2016 Olympic fencer, Nzingha Prescod, to talk about resistance- a common theme in many athletes' lives both on and off the competition floor.


(Above: Nzingha Prescod of USA in the Women's Foil Team Fencing classification at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Image source: Hannah Johnston/Getty Images Europe)


Rio 2016 Olympic fencer, Nzingha Prescod discusses the importance of balance and stepping back from her passion for obtaining the mental capacity for achieving the Olympic dream. 


“I took a step back after the Olympics in 2012- I wasn’t as involved or concerned with obtaining my end goal (the Olympic games) in a consuming way like I had been before and it was extremely helpful.” Says Prescod.

“Having the opportunity to then come back to fencing, I gained a broader perspective. I was much clearer and more focused. Before I was so immersed in fencing, I began to lose my purpose in doing it. I lost the fun of it. Fencing is my world and it is so important to me, that I become scared to lose it.” Says Prescod about the mental resistance she faced preparing for Rio. 

Additionally, in the four years leading up to today’s match, Prescod had to deal with many injuries pertaining to her hips. “I have a lot of hip instability because of wear and tear, but it just manifests in a lot of other injuries in my right leg.” Says Prescod.

“School helped balance me. I would take a lot of classes and choose courses I was interested in. Studying academics instead of just fencing kept me from losing the drive I needed when I couldn’t necessarily fence because of injury,” Says Prescod. 



Fencing has always been her number one priority but switching fencing for academics gave her a sense of peace.

“I planned out my semesters to always take classes with professors who were understanding and who would accommodate my schedule. Also, staying in constant communication with my professors so they knew what was going on and what the deal was. I was kind of limited in college in that way.  And if the teacher wasn’t about it, then I wouldn’t take that class.” Says Prescod about juggling her attendance at Columbia University and fencing full time. 

“Recently, I sprained my groin and I couldn’t fence for three weeks. Just simply thinking of what small things I can control helped me gain a mental clarity and keep pushing forward. Says Prescod.

“There are times in my training when I can’t fence. What I could control was doing my physical therapy, icing and doing the exercises that helped me become stronger. Also, going to watch other fencers and being around fencing helped me stay focused on what I could control.” Says Prescod about how she overcame injuries and physical setbacks. 

She is not new to sports injuries, as Prescod has tried and competed in a plethora of sports. “I started off playing T-Ball when I was 4 years-old. Then I transitioned into and out of ballet, gymnastics, tennis and karate. It wasn’t till I was 9 years old that I started fencing.” Say Prescod.

Her mother heard about the Peter Westbrook Foundation and enrolled Prescod and her sister in the program.



When we asked her who her key mentors and coaches were in the early days she said, “Peter Westbrook and Erinn Smart.”

“They were successful coaches in fencing and they helped make my dream obtainable. That I could reach that level of success (of training and gaining a foundation in fencing) because they (Westbrook and Smart) had helped other athletes achieve success in fencing,” says Prescod. 

She became zealous when sharing what she learned from her experiences as an Olympic hopeful turned Olympian. “This sport and any sport is all mental. You can easily get in your own way and make things so complicated when you just need to break it down and make it very simple. Create small tasks and encourage yourself - tell yourself that you are confident and you can do it. Believe in yourself. “

“Take smaller benchmarks like, asking yourself, what do I do best? How do I strengthen that action? And then have the courage to execute it,” says Prescod.” It’s easy to be overwhelmed by something as big as the Olympics, and narrowing your focus helps to break down the actions (into manageable goals) you can accomplish.”

WATCH NOW as Nzingha competes in the Women's Individual Foil competition at



  • Aira: December 21, 2022

    Your work is very good and I appreciate all your effort in sharing this. Hoping for some more informative posts in future as well. Thank you for sharing great information with us.
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