A Goleta resident is taking her fencing talents to Tokyo for the Olympics despite major roadblocks to get there.
“I'm going to fence for the rest of my life. I love fencing. I also really like geoscience and I like a few other things and was learning how to balance all of that,” Olympic fencer Anna van Brummen told KSBY.
Van Brummen, born and raised in Houston, TX, now calls Santa Barbara her home.
“I moved here and I've been here for a year and now we've got Tokyo," she said.
In 2016, van Brummen took off from Princeton in order to set her sights on the Olympics for that year.
“I took that year off to try and qualify for the Rio Olympics and I went back to Houston and trained with my original coach for a year and I did the worst that I've ever done," she said.
The rough showing put her future with the sport in doubt.
"I didn't know if I was going to continue fencing. I knew I'd always fence recreationally but I didn't know at the highest level."
Deciding to get her master’s degree, van Brummen moved to Switzerland where she decided the road to the Olympics wasn't over for her but was instead just getting started.
"I did most of my qualification when I was in Switzerland and then COVID hit and my plan had always been to move to Santa Barbara after Tokyo," she said.
But her training abroad was halted due to the pandemic.
“Right before COVID hit, everything got postponed. The team was training in Budapest where we were meant to be for a month. In the middle of the night, our federation called us and said we booked your tickets, you're coming home in the morning, pack everything. It felt kind of crazy to run from a country," she said.
In 2021, van Brummen went from leading lessons for the Presidio Fencing Club with Santa Barbara coach Tim Robinson in his backyard to preparing for a run at the Olympics inside a tent outside of The Dance Network.
“In March, they planned our last qualifying event, which was in Kazan, Russia, and they told us about it one month beforehand. We had to go a week early to quarantine, get tested,” she said.
Van Brummen would then qualify for the Olympic team and all that separated her from her trip to Tokyo was the preparation period.
“In addition to training, we're also video analyzing the opponents we're going to be fencing, which is Korea," she said.
While van Brummen has her sights set on gold, she knows the journey her fencing career has taken her on will not end in Tokyo.
“This is something I'm very proud of and I've worked hard to get here, so many people have supported me to get here but it's not the end of the road for me. I see myself continuing. I want to keep fencing. I want to keep becoming a better fencer and this is just one step in that process," she said.
The fencing competition in Tokyo is set for July 27.