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Fencing: Olympian readjusts to college competition

By Laura Coletti | Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Irish senior captain Courtney Hurley is getting reacquainted with Notre Dame fencing.

With a highly-decorated collegiate career already under her belt, Hurley has returned to fence for the Irish during her senior year after spending the 2011-2012 season traveling Europe, with her epee training culminating at the 2012 Olympic Games in August.

Since helping Team USA earn the Team Epee bronze medal last summer, Hurley has returned to competing for the Irish while continuing to compete individually at World Cup events throughout the world.

Hurley said the undertaking has been both fulfilling and tiring.

“It’s really tough, because you train so hard for the Olympics, all you want to do after you train hard is take off,” Hurley said. “It was a very stressful year.”

The year off also had its perks for the San Antonioexas native.

“I think over the course of the year that I took off to do training in Europe, I got a little better at least,” she said. “I think people are more intimidated by me now that I’ve been to the Olympics. I’m not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing.”

Although she hasn’t always had Olympic dreams, fencing has always been in Hurley’s blood. Her parents met through the sport and her older sister, Kelley, also competed for the Irish epee squad.

“When we were babies, [our parents] would take us to their fencing tournaments and we would run around,” Hurley said. “They put us into fencing when we were eight or so, we were pretty good so we continued.”

Hurley realized she had a good chance of eventually competing in the Olympics around the age of 15, she said, when she won the world championships at the cadet level.

She then went on to win at the junior level, and trained to go to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Her sister qualified that year but she did not.

That did not deter her goal of ultimately reaching the Olympics, nor did it affect her relationship with her sister.

“It was nice having her here,” Hurley said. “We lived together my sophomore year and her senior year in Breen-Phillips. We were really close, she helped me find my way my freshman year. It was always nice having someone just in case. Fencing-wise, we’ve always been together, so it wasn’t anything new there.”

For her senior year, Hurley has her sights set on making a return to the NCAA National Championships, both on an individual level and with the Irish as a team. Hurley won the 2011 individual national championship after placing third in both her freshman and sophomore years.

“[Winning the championship in 2011] felt awesome because the team won also,” she said “Everyone felt amazing because we had all won, and for me to win it [individually] on top of that, it was just an amazing weekend.”

Contact Laura Coletti at lcoletti@nd.edu