By Adrian Cheung
The term “student-athlete” doesn’t get a whole lot of buzz at Ryerson.
But you would think that an athlete, who dominates at the university level, has won medals and is ranked nationally, could get a little publicity from time to time.
It doesn’t always work that way though. Especially not when that sport is fencing.
Horia Puscas, a sabre fencer on the Ryerson squad is one of the highest achieving athletes at the university. He has won three Ontario University Athletics (OUA) medals; two bronze and one silver, all while boosting his national ranking to 33rd in the Canadian Fencing Federation in the past year. He has been nominated for Male Athlete of the Year at Ryerson but he said he wasn’t even notified about it until days before the athletics banquet.
“When all the athletes were nominated, they were getting asked questions and nobody asked me anything.
But what can you do, right?” Puscas said.
The continuous snubs aren’t worn as a chip on Puscas’s shoulder. He said he understands that fencing is still largely a niche sport that few people understand or pay attention to.
“I’ve just gotten used to it. It’s not even that Ryerson doesn’t recognize fencing, “ Puscas said.
“It’s just not a popular sport so that’s about it.”
He started fencing at 11 years old in his native Romania before rediscovering the sport again in his first year of university.
Since then, he has quickly risen through the ranks of OUA competition, winning his first medal in 2005 while competing in over 15 events every year.
Along the way, he’s garnered plenty of confidence in his abilities – both mentally and physically.
“When you start with complete confidence, it really is much better. You’re already 50 per cent into the bout, whereas the other person is afraid. It gives you an advantage,” he said.
With repeated bouts, Puscas has also gained an encyclopedic knowledge of his opponents, learning their tactics and tendencies, giving him a decided edge before he takes a single swipe.
“I think: ‘Do I know anything about the [opponent]? Do I know that he’s doing a step and lunge? Or does he pull his arm back right before an attack?’”
Moving on from university level competition, Puscas has set his sights on a higher standard: national competitions and rankings. Here’s guessing that his name and his game won’t soon be forgotten.