The Winter Olympics is fast approaching and it will air on our Action News Now station, NBC 24. But, we found a local athlete who has the potential to compete in the Summer Olympics sometime down the road. Action News Now's Ross Field introduces us to an emerging star in the sport of fencing.
Mikaela Yhip is not your average teenager. Most 13-year-olds are thinking about gossip, social media, video games and TV shows. But, this soft-spoken individual is setting her sights on so much more.
"Three years ago my mom was looking through a CARD magazine one day and she found fencing and she was like 'hey do you want to try this?' And I kept saying 'no' because when we went there there were all boys and they were all taller than me so I was a little bit scared," said Yhip.
But, she still took a stab at it and the sport stuck with her.
" I would go everyday from 7:00-9:00 p.m. I actually really loved it!" Yhip exclaimed.
Some of that practice was with her local coach Tobin Rodman.
But, Mikaela has also been training weekly in San Francisco with a club team run by former Olympican and current U.S. men's foil coach Greg Massialas.
He saw potential in Mikaela at a tournament and invited her to join the club team.
"You have to be quick thinking and you have to have a lot of strength in your thighs to be able to move around quicker," said Yhip.
"She has a nickname 'Swordfish' because she also swims and because of that, that increases her athleticism a lot and it helps fencing because footwork is very very important, timing, movement and she's very very strong," added Rodman.
A skill set that currently has Yhip ranked 15th in the nation in her age group! And the ranking might be on the way up after she recently won back-to-back gold medals at regional competitions.
"It feels really good. It feels like all the work that I've done is paying off," said Yhip.
And she travels across the country to compete.
"Fencing has taken me to Milwaukee, Texas, New Jersey, Utah, Arizona, it's taken me to a bunch of different states," said Yhip.
Her next big competition is coming up, the North American Cup in Baltimore in March.
She knows the lingo and even her teaching is on point. She studies the history of the sport and it appears she has the sticktoittiveness to make it to the top.
"My ultimate dream and goal is to go to the Olympics and I want to make podium," said Yhip.
"I look forward to sitting in the box and watching her at the Olympics one day and that's not something you can say a lot. She's got the work ethic and that's what it takes," added Rodman.