Friday, August 8, 2008

Rebecca Ward - Homeschooled Olympian

The Olympics have begun and so I find it fitting to present to you a homeschooled Olympian today. Rebecca Ward is the second-ranked women’s sabre fencer in the world and is a member of the USA Fencing team. She will be competing in the Individual sabre and Team sabre events. She is 18 and hails from Portland, Oregon. She will be attending Duke University in the fall.

NBC did a piece about Rebecca and her biographic information is here. Here is an excerpt:
Triple crown
At the age of 16, Becca Ward became the 2006 World Champion in women's sabre, as she defeated 2004 Olympic gold medalist and club mate, Mariel Zagunis, 15 -11, in the final. Having captured the Cadet and Junior World Championships earlier in the year, she became the first fencer to win the triple crown. The win also earned her the USOC Female Athlete of the Month for October.

Impressive record
Ward has proven that the world championship was no fluke, producing victories at six World Cup events, three Grand Prix events and two Pan American Championships in two-plus seasons. Included are back-to-back wins at the prestigious Trophee BNP-Paribas in Orleans, France. Her record at the senior level is stunning: among the 73 fencers she has faced through the end of the 2007-08 season, she is unbeaten against 64 of them. She holds a career losing bout record against only Italy's Gioia Marzocca (0-1), Poland's Aleksandra Socha (1-2) and Russia's Efrosinya Nekrasova (0-1). She is 5-1 against world #3 and U.S. teammate, Sada Jacobson and 2-1 against top-ranked Tan Xue of China and #4 Mariel Zagunis.
USA Today ran a piece about Rebecca as well and it highlights her fierce competitive nature. It also talks briefly about why she began homeschooling:
Aside from one semester in first grade, Ward has been home-schooled by her mother. Her parents say that because she was excelling in several academic areas, particularly math, they worried her progress would be stymied by being in Denver public school classrooms that averaged 35 students.
But that's not all - she has a very interesting background and she certainly has spunk.

I have met other homeschoolers with olympic designs. One family contacted me and wanted to get information about homeschooling in CT because and they were training for the luge and another family was involved in equestrian competition. Others I know were skaters training in Simsbury CT with other past Olympians. So homeschoolers are not just all about spelling and geography bees.

I wish Rebecca the best, as I am sure everyone else in America does. Her accomplishments have already been quite impressive.

UPDATE: Americans sweep womens sabre fencing event: Mariel Zagunis wins Gold, Sada Jacobson Silver and Becca Ward bronze! Nice work Ladies!