Robert Ciccarelli lives by the sword – literally!
The talented teenager is Australia’s top ranking fencer in his age division and one of three representatives from Sydney Catholic Schools heading to the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires next month. Also making the Australian team of 88 athletes are sailor Will Cooley from Waverley College and hockey player Grace Young from St Patrick’s College at Sutherland.
Robert has been fencing since he was just 6 and can’t believe his dream of competing at the Olympics is finally coming true.
The Year 11 student said he believes it’s his faith that has helped get him where he is today and always says a prayer just before he hears the words ‘En garde, are you ready, fence’ signalling the start of every bout.
“My routine is always the same, I listen to ACDC to rev me up and then as I hit the mat I always say a prayer and make the Sign of the Cross, it’s a mark of respect to God and my faith which has really helped over the years when things were tough,” he said.
“But now I’m just so happy that all of my hard work and dedication is starting to pay off not only for me but for my coaches at the Marconi Fencing Academy who have shown me so much support over the years.”
Robert was initially attracted to the little-known sport as a 6-year-old by a family member. Keen to take up a martial art, he loved that fencing was quite unique and demanded equal amounts of physical and mental strength.
His coach recognised his obvious talent at a very early age and encourage him to continue in the sport.
“They said do what we tell you and you’ll make the Olympics and that’s exactly what’s happened, my dream has come true,” he said.
“I owe so much to so many people including my parents, family, coaches and of course God.
“The Youth Olympics has always been a primary goal of mine and when I qualified to represent Australia based on my results at the World Cadet Championships in Italy earlier this year it showed me it has all been worth it.”
Principal of Patrician Brothers Fairfield Peter Wade said Robert was a daily reminder of what hard work and dedication can achieve.
“Robert is a great example to other students. His grit and determination to achieve at an elite level is inspirational,” he said.
“Like many true champions he goes about his work with humble manner and great composure.”
Robert has already travelled to Hong Kong, the Philippines, Italy, Slovakia and Dubai to compete in international competitions.
He has represented his state since he was 10 in team events and such was his potential he has been a part of the Talented Fencer Program and the Youth Olympic training group since he was 12.
After he completes his HSC, Robert would love to get a scholarship to a university in the US or Italy and train with some of the world’s best and potentially compete in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Long term he would like to complete his studies and become a mechatronic engineer, which is a multidisciplinary field of engineering that includes a combination of mechanical engineering, electronics, computer engineering, telecommunications engineering, systems engineering and control engineering.
The 2018 Youth Olympic Games, being held in the Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires between October 6-18, will showcase athletes aged between 15-18 years from 206 countries competing in 32 sports.