Road to London brings Egyptian Olympic fencer to Issaquah | Community sports feature

Mannad Zeid is far from his home in Egypt and far from the site of the 2012 Olympics in London. But with a world-class trainer and gracious Eastside hosts, there's no place he would rather be.

Mannad Zeid’s trip to London is on quite the detour.

A member of the Egyptian fencing team headed to the 2012 Olympics, Zeid took anything but a direct route to the Games, which begin July 27, coming to Issaquah’s Washington Fencing Academy to train for a life-long dream that may last only seconds.

In concert with the international community that defines the sport, Egyptian fencers were sent to cities across the United States, including New York and San Francisco, to train with masters of the sport.

Zeid has been working with Wang Yung, a Maitre de Sabre and world champion competitor in his own right and Yung said his ability to make changes to his technique on the fly has been impressive.

“I can’t overstate this: he is a really fast learner,” Yung said. “He can take something I’m telling him and immediately apply it in a bout.”

Despite finding himself in Washington alone after a coach and female teammate were unable to secure visas in time to make the trip, Zeid said his first experience in the United States has been a positive one.

He is anything but the only international presence at the academy, with former and current competitors, an international referee and founder Serge Timacheff, who has attended four Olympics and is the official fencing photographer for the International Olympic Committee, all bringing worldly experience to the Eastside’s fencing enthusiasts.

Even with his years of experience in the sport and training with Yung, Timacheff said the single elimination format will be a stiff test for Zeid, who will compete in the Men’s Individual Sabre field. Competition begins in the morning on July 29 and 39 athletes (some will receive a bye into the round of 32) will be trimmed to only two with a Gold Medal on the line.

“I feel like I’ve improved,” Zeid said of his brief time in Issaquah and with Yung. “He has a lot of experience and has taught me a lot.”

Timacheff and his wife Amy, who found a permanent home for the academy in Issaquah in 2010, have hosted Zeid at their home and made sure he experienced popular local pastimes like a meal at XXX Rootbeer Drive-in and trips to Snoqualmie Falls and Costco.

Timacheff said the addition of another fencer who competes on the international stage has been an invaluable experience to his students and campers.

“This has been a great, enriching experience for the kids,” Timacheff said. “The chance to go against an Olympic fencer really shows them that potential.”

Zeid, who hosts fencing camps and clinics in Egypt, said his passion for bringing the sport to future generations is something he has valued since his own youth.

“I always enjoyed working with older fencers when I was younger,” he said. “Now I can give that back. When they are happy, I’m happy.”


Zeid in his fencing helmet and sabre. Josh Suman, Issaquah-Sammamish Reporter.

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