Saber Fencer Lola Possick Sets Her Sights on 2024 Summer Olympics

The New Jersey native is working hard to make the team that will compete in Paris.
Lola Possick

Lola Possick.

While many 18-year-olds are embarking on their first year of college, Lola Possick is taking a gap year as she trains for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. The New Jersey native is a member of the U.S. national team for women’s saber fencing, a sport she picked up at the age of 7.

Inspired by her older brother, Owen, to try fencing, Possick competed in her first regional tournament a year later. She participated in her first international tournament in Hungary at the age of 13, which she says was a major adjustment as a middle schooler.

“I would be traveling once or twice a month for the competitions, especially once there was international ones in the mix. It was difficult at first,” she admits. “Just managing schoolwork, especially [then] in high school, with practice and training and socially seeing friends, but I kind of got used to my routine and I got used to managing my time, communicating with teachers, with my friends, everyone to make sure that I was balancing everything well.”

Training for the Olympics

Possick, who graduated from high school last June, has ramped up her typical training as she prepares to qualify for the Olympics. While in the past, she’d typically train five days a week, her training is even more rigorous these days.

“I’ve been training two times a day, almost every day of the week, apart from Sunday, when I have my rest day,” Possick shares, noting that her training amounts to between four and five hours per day. “So it’s definitely a bit of an adjustment to get used to training a lot more.”

Since her schooling has provided her additional outlets to focus on outside of her sport in the past, Possick is currently taking mathematics and French courses “so I can have something else going on besides just training for the Olympics,” she says.

Her day-to-day training often consists of strength and conditioning workouts, as well as team training sessions. The day we spoke, for example, Possick had just returned from a gym workout and was planning to head to her club in the evening for some free bouting with her teammates and one-on-one work with her coach.

“I found that [schedule] to be easier for me, especially in the afternoon. Now I have a lot more time for recovery, which is also something that I felt last year I wasn’t able to do. So I have a lot more time just to stretch and make sure that I’m fully recovered for my next practice to get the most out of it.”

Lola Possick bouts with a competitor

Lola Possick bouts with a competitor.

Prioritizing her mental health along the way

While Possick admits that her intense training regime took some getting used to, she says she’s adjusted to her new routine now. Training her body so hard has required her to really prioritize her emotional well-being.

In addition to taking math and French courses, Possick enjoys hobbies like hiking and crocheting that allow her to focus on things outside of her sport.

“I’ve found it really helpful just to have those other little outlets that I can do to fill my time because I do have stretches of a couple of hours during the day where I don’t have school to go to and I don’t have homework to do so it’s been nice to have other little activities,” she shares. “I’m also trying to teach myself how to cook so it’s been fun for me to have things to experiment with while I’m also training, just to make it more fun for myself.”

Modeling is also another creative outlet that she is exploring. After a family friend suggested she try it out, Possick found a mother agent who set her up with a photo shoot that incorporated her fencing gear, allowing her to blend two of her passions together.

“Personally, I think that fencing is a pretty elegant sport,” Possick says. “When you understand what’s happening, it’s really, really cool just to see the way everything flows, the way people move, I think it’s really beautiful. So, for me, I really wanted to try and put my own spin on that.”

While modeling is still new for her, Possick hopes to bring her own unique spin to the industry while integrating her sport.

Lola Possick

Lola Possick.

Getting other young women involved in sabre fencing

While fencing has been part of the Olympics since the very first games were held in Athens in 1896, women’s sabre fencing wasn’t introduced to the Olympics until 2004.

Sabre fencing is becoming more popular among women today, but Possick notes that the sport is generally more male dominated. Her advice for young women looking to break into the sport is similar to the lesson she learned at her first senior-level competition last year: never doubt that you belong, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

“For any girl that wants to get started with women’s sabre, you have to be able to take a stand for yourself, to stand up for yourself, especially when you’re learning the sport... When I was younger, something that I think has helped me even now, was I always asked questions. Even if I was one of the few girls in the room with a class of other boys, I had to be able to speak up for myself and ask my questions, take up space in that room,” she shares. “And even now, there are some days where I’ll be the only girl at practice when I train and sometimes it’s a little intimidating for me just to be the only girl in the room and just surrounded by guys, but now I’m just kind of learning that I need to be able to stand up for myself. I need to be able to share my opinions, [use] my voice, ask my questions and not be embarrassed, but really just know that I deserve to be in that space.”

Goals for the Olympics and beyond

The Olympic team members will be officially revealed in May. While moving up the rankings in order to secure her spot is her main goal at the moment, she has a well-rounded approach to future success.

“Despite my main goal being to make the Olympics, I also really want to find enjoyment in the process of becoming a better athlete, getting stronger, getting faster [and] fine-tuning my technique in my sport. Those are all things that I’m trying to put almost on a higher pedestal,” she says of focusing on her long-term success rather than just her goals immediately on the horizon.

Possick says that approaching it this way not only helps her to be a more well-rounded individual, but also keeps her from putting too much pressure on herself.

“I want to be the best version of myself in my sport and also just as a person, as a balanced human,” Possick concludes, while also crediting her amazing support system. “Despite fencing being an individual sport, I could not have made it where I am today without the support from my family, coaches and friends. Without my parents fully supporting me and my goals, there’s no way I would be able to chase my Olympic dream, and without the trust and work from my coaches, I would not have the resources to be the best that I can be.”

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

“I would love to be able to speak and understand any language.”

Favorite song of the moment?

“[Anything on] Beyoncé’s new album [Renaissance].”

What was the last book you read?

“Right now I’m reading Born to Run [by Christopher McDougall].”

What travel destination is still on your bucket list?

“Somewhere I really want to go is Tokyo. I’ve never been there before, and the food and the culture there seems pretty amazing.”

What’s the last TV show that you binged?

Gilmore Girls.”

Cara O’Bleness


Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.