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Jessica Guo, Freshman Fencing Phenom, Set to Compete for Canada at 2024 Paris Olympics

Harvard freshman fencer Jessica Guo is set to compete for Canada at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Harvard freshman fencer Jessica Guo is set to compete for Canada at the 2024 Paris Olympics. By Jennifer Z. Liang
By Katharine Forst and Thomas Harris, Crimson Staff Writers

Phenom freshman foil fencer Jessica Guo, who has proved herself to be a standout addition to the Harvard women’s fencing team this season, is set to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympics for her home country of Canada.

Her participation at the games, which has yet to be announced by the Canadian national team, will be her second Olympic games with the squad.

Guo confirmed her selection to Canada’s 2024 Olympic fencing team in response to a comment request for comment on Tuesday. The Canadian Fencing Federation did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

The Toronto, Ontario native previously competed with Team Canada in 2020 at the Tokyo Olympics where she placed fifth in the team competition and 13th in the individuals. Guo believes that this will shape her mindset going forward.

“I am approaching this Olympics with the mindset that anything can happen,” Guo said. “I learned from the last Olympics that miracles can happen, and that there is great unpredictability in the Games because everyone is nervous for the once in a lifetime opportunity.”

While unable to compete at the Ivy League Championships due to international commitments this season, the freshman took 10th place at the Senior Foil World Cup in Cairo, Egypt on Feb. 27. She was the youngest fencer to secure a top-10 finish.

Next on the docket for the freshman fencer is proving herself amongst the stiff competition at NCAAs. After capturing the NCAA Northeast Region women’s foil title, Guo punched her ticket to the national tournament. To the freshman, continuing to hone her skills before the competitive Paris tournament will be essential in ensuring her success.

“NCAAs is a great preparation for my endurance because there are around 20 bouts I need to fence in,” Guo said. “However, the high energy and intensity of the competition is good preparation for the loud and chaotic crowd in Paris.”

Guo is adamant that her time with the team has helped to prepare her for her non-collegiate battles. She leans heavily on her support system throughout her tournaments, drawing on the energy of her crowd as she looks to secure her victories. While fencing for the Crimson, this network is composed of her team, friends, and coaching staff. However, that foundation of emotional support will shift to her Canadian team and country-mates in just a matter of weeks. In order to make the most of her team, Guo will look to train with her peers heading into her time in Paris.

“I want to get to know my team and spend more time with the Team Canada fencers because we are a decentralized team,” Guo said. “Therefore, leading up to Paris, I will probably spend most of my months off with my team.”

Guo, who will be competing against her Harvard teammates in junior foil Lauren Scruggs and sabre Elizabeth Tartakovsy ’23 — both of whom are representing the United States — commented on the shift in mindset she will need to make in order to compete against her fellow teammates.

“It is definitely very different because I have been competing alongside her the entire season,” Guo said. “Therefore, having to cheer against her is definitely very weird. However, I’ve gotta represent my country!”

To Guo, determining this distinction between friend and foe is critical. She will take her experience match by match, and approach each bout with a renewed vigor for victory.

“Representing my country and school will be relatively different, but I will focus mostly on my opponent rather than the people I represent,” the foil said.

Before she begins her training with Team Canada, Guo will travel to Columbus, Ohio this week where she will look to bring home even more hardware. The first day of competition will begin on Thursday, and depending on her performance, will last until Sunday.

—Staff writer Katharine Forst can be reached at katharine.forst@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Thomas G. Harris can be reached at thomas.harris@thecrimson.com.

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