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Harvard fencer heads for Olympics

first_img Touché: Harvard fencing “He had an immediate impact on the program right from Day One,” said Brand, who is in his 16th year with the Harvard program and who has coached three other Harvard Olympic fencers, including Emily Cross ’09, a silver medalist with the U.S. women’s foil fencing team at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. Not only was Dershwitz “an excellent individual fencer,” said Brand, “but he was an excellent team person, which is sometimes very difficult to find in an individual sport like fencing.”Dershwitz honed his drive and devotion after taking up the sport at age 9, eager to emulate his older brother, Philip, whose regular routs and hard hits brought him to tears but strengthened his resolve. “[Philip] really pushed me to be better; he was a great role model,” said Dershwitz. “He also made me want to push myself even harder.”As Dershwitz excelled with his sword, other sports fell away. In high school he committed himself exclusively to fencing, traveling to competitions and working with his coach to “to compete at a higher level.” The commitment paid off. In 2015 he won gold at the Junior World Championship in the saber, as well as gold at the Pan American Championships. He sealed his spot on the Olympic team with another gold medal finish at the Grand Prix in Seoul in March, one of a series of fencing’s senior world cup events.“I am really happy to be able to represent my county and my school,” said 20-year-old Eli Dershwitz. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerCompetitive fencing includes the foil, the épée, and the saber. Each comes with its own style and rules. Saber fencing involves the smallest of the three blades. Unlike épée or foil fencers, saber fencers can use the edge as well as the tip of their weapons to score points or “touches” against their opponents. The target area for the saber is the body above the waist, excluding the hands. The winner of a match is the fencer who scores 15 points or who has the most points when the three-minute match expires. Saber fencing is considered the most aggressive of the three weapon styles, with quick cutting and slashing motions and explosive movements that are key to victory.“It’s a lot faster-paced — fast reactions, fast touches, a lot of sprints,” said Dershwitz, who loves the saber’s mix of speed and complexity. “That always got to me, the amount of physical and mental ability it took at the same time, to be able to be explosive but also to be able to react quickly to what your opponent was doing.”These days a typical Olympic workout for Dershwitz includes a morning routine of weights, endurance training, and sprints, one-on-one training with his coach in the afternoon, and 2½ hours of fencing at night. When he wants to relax, the Sherborn, Mass., native often heads back to Cambridge to train or just kick back with friends. “Living so close to Harvard and being so close to all my friends and roommates from last year, it’s definitely been a big support.”Many of Dershwitz’s Crimson teammates will travel to Rio to watch him compete, including Duncan O’Brien ’16, who trained at the same fencing club where he watched Dershwitz blossom into “an unbelievable talent.” He would arrive early to jog, stretch, and practice his footwork, and he “wanted to fence until the coach turned the lights off … he inspired everyone,” recalled O’Brien, who encouraged Dershwitz to apply to Harvard.Between schoolwork and fencing for Harvard and in international competitions, freshman year was “very hectic,” said Dershwitz. He credits his family and friends with helping him through and supporting his Olympic dream. The final step is to just do his best in Brazil.“I want to look back and say I gave it everything I had … and hopefully,” he said, “I come back with a medal.”The Olympic men’s saber competition will be lived streamed at nbcolympics.com. There’s “no crying in baseball,” actor Tom Hanks famously quipped in the 1992 film “A League of Their Own,” but some fencers have been known to shed a tear. Just ask Eli Dershwitz.The Harvard undergraduate admits he has “teared up” while watching Team USA during the last three Olympic opening ceremonies. There’s a good chance he’ll be emotional again when the games kick off in Brazil next month, but this time he’ll be in the procession.Tears of joy could flow for the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic men’s fencing team during the competition as well. As the top-ranked saber fencer in the United States and current tie for 11th in the world, Dershwitz, 20, will begin his quest for a medal on Aug. 10 at the Carioca Arena 3 in Rio de Janeiro.“A lot of things have fallen into place; a lot people have helped me along the way, and I am really happy to be able to represent my country and my school this summer,” said Dershwitz, a rising sophomore who fenced for the Crimson as a freshman before taking a year off to train in his sport full-time. “I am just looking forward to putting all the hard work and dedication, all the hours of blood, sweat, and tears over the years … into one great tournament.”For many participants, those years of training culminate in a tournament that ends in a flash. Fencing matches last a maximum of three minutes, but their lightning-fast pace means bouts are often decided in 60 seconds, sometimes fewer.“You prepare yourself for four, eight, 12 years to get this one shot at the Olympic Games … and in a lot of cases you end up fencing that one match and you’re out,” said Harvard’s head fencing coach, Peter Brand, who recruited Dershwitz. The single-elimination Olympic saber competition will begin with 32 competitors and end with just two thrusting and slashing along the piste, or fencing strip, in pursuit of the gold.Eli Dershwitz is the No. 1 ranked saber fencer in the U.S., and currently tied for 11th in the world. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff PhotographerBrand calls Dershwitz the kind of fencer you see “once maybe every 100 years,” and predicts he has a good shot at the podium.“Eli is an absolute phenom. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”Experts agree it’s unusual for such a young fencer to succeed in the senior ranks; most who excel at the sport typically peak in their late 20s. Dedication, talent, and hard work have all fueled Dershwitz’s swift success, said Brand, but it’s his mental toughness that sets him apart.“That’s something you can’t teach, and he’s just wired that way,” said Brand. “He does not get rattled.”Dershwitz’s composure was key during the Crimson’s 2014-15 season, when he helped the men’s team lift the Ivy League title. He performed as both a fencer and coach, competing and leading footwork sessions during practice for his fellow fencers.center_img Relatedlast_img read more

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COVID-19: Central Java students demand ‘creativity’ amid boredom of remote studying

first_imgAmelia Adiputri Diansari, a student at SMA 1 state high school in Sragen, said the apparent lack of digital literacy among teachers had become a major issue as the entire classroom moved into the virtual space as a result of physical-distancing measures.“Many teachers, especially the senior ones, are tech-illiterate. Since the study-from-home policy was issued, these teachers have had difficulty adjusting [to digital platforms],” Amelia said on Wednesday.Amelia, who serves as the head of Central Java Children’s Forum, was among the students from over 35 cities and regencies across the province who were invited to share their remote-learning experiences with Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo on Wednesday.The 150-minute online forum, which was held virtually via video conference, aimed to address issues that students have experienced since they started studying from home. Ganjar encouraged teachers to be more creative in designing learning modules to spark students’ interest.“The point is that [students] need . They need to see their teachers’ faces. Teachers may even assign students projects that they like, such as vlogs,” Ganjar said.According to a recent online survey conducted by the Central Java Children’s Forum in collaboration with the Central Java Child Protection and Empowerment and Population Control Agency, the majority of students are “bored” by the current learning method, Amelia said.“The survey found that 80 percent of students were bored,” she said.She went on to say that, in an unusual display of role-reversal, students have often initiated video conferences themselves to maintain interactivity in the classroom.Read also: Studying from home: Seven online learning platforms for studentsIn a bid to improve the remote-learning experience amid the COVID-19 pandemic, public television broadcaster TVRI regularly airs a full-day education program called Belajar dari Rumah (Study from Home) in cooperation with the Education and Culture Ministry.The programs, for all levels of education from pre-kindergarten to high school, focus on developing student literacy, numeracy and character and life skills.Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim said the program was the ministry’s effort to help students who faced hindrances in remote internet learning.”This program can help students who have limited internet access for economic or geographic reasons,” Nadiem said. (rfa)Topics : Under normal circumstances, teachers usually have the authority to decide how to deliver their lessons on various subjects to their students in the classroom.But the current COVID-19 pandemic has overhauled the old study process as teachers now find themselves under constant pressure to become tech-savvy with the current study-from-home policy. The scheme requires knowledge about the ins and outs of digital communication platforms – largely uncharted territory, especially for older members of the faculty who have been accustomed to markers and whiteboards.In Semarang, Central Java, some students have taken it upon themselves to spice up their remote learning experience, claiming that their teachers have failed to fully adjust to the all-digital reality amid the ongoing public health crisis.last_img read more

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Roma Coach Believes in Miracle over Barca

first_imgRoma coach Eusebio Di Francesco has urged his side to believe in a “miracle” to overturn a 4-1 deficit against Barcelona and advance to the Champions League semifinals this evening.“We have to believe in something important and go for it with great love and passion. They will play their best to confirm the result but we can also produce a miracle,” Di Francesco told a pre-match press conference.“It’s difficult, but we have to believe. We stopped (Lionel) Messi (in the first leg) and we have to try to do it again tomorrow.” Edin Dzeko scored a valuable away goal after own goals from Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas in the Camp Nou, but the Italians need a remarkable comeback at the Stadio Olimpico to advance to final four for the first time since 1984.Barcelona star Lionel Messi returns to the Stadio Olimpico where his stunning header sealed the Champions League title in 2009 against Manchester United.The Argentine – back from a hamstring problem and subdued in the first leg – warmed up with a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Leganes Saturday as Barcelona equalled the record longest unbeaten run in La Liga history.“I don’t see it as being tied up in any way,” said Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde ahead of the return.Messi and teammate Andres Iniesta are poised for a milestone of 100 Champions League appearances together. Iniesta is a veteran of 129 Champions League games, and Messi, 124.Roma have slipped to fourth in Serie A after a 2-0 home defeat to Fiorentina, making it three games without a win, and a seventh home defeat. Di Francesco’s side will be looking to avoid equalling the club’s record of eight home defeats in all competitions going back 70 years. “Maybe Barcelona away are not the same team as at the Camp Nou, we will try to close down Messi wherever he is on the pitch,” said the Roma coach. Roma have kept a clean sheet in all of their European games at home this season while the Catalan giants have struggled to get goals away in the Champions League, setting the scene for a low-key scoring affair in the Stadio Olimpico.From a possible sacrifice for his cash-strapped club in January, Edin Dzeko again proved his worth to Roma with his 19th goal of the season in the first leg.After the 32-year-old’s proposed move to Chelsea fell through in the winter transfer window, Dzeko helped the club’s balance sheet by securing Roma’s place in the last eight of Europe’s lucrative elite competition.And the former Manchester City striker showed his class and his talents by getting a goal back against the Spanish league leaders.Andres Iniesta could be playing his final games for Barcelona as he has said he will make a decision on whether to accept an offer to move to China before the end of April.Iniesta, 33, penned a new contract at Camp Nou earlier this season but the terms of the deal allow him to leave at the end of each season.The midfielder, who remains an important part of Valverde’s side, has said: “I will decide before April 30. There are still a few weeks left. There are two options: stay at Barcelona or go to China.”Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets is still not fully fit as he comes back after breaking his toe against Chelsea last month with Philippe Coutinho not eligible to play and Lucas Digne injured. Roma’s Radja Nainggolan has recovered from injury while Di Francesco has said Turkish forward Cengiz Under is fit again and will feature in the second leg. “The home crowd can be our weapon,” warned Di Francesco.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

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It’s time for the annual crosstown showdown in LA

first_imgFor players, coaches and fans alike, the crosstown showdown between USC and UCLA is a long-awaited treat at the end of the season. With just two weeks left before bowl season, the No. 13 Trojans (7-3) will travel to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to face the Bruins (4-6).Brian Chin | Daily TrojanBeat the Bruins · Junior wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and the football team are traveling across town to take on UCLA. The Trojans have defeated the Bruins in 13 of their last 17 meetings, including last year’s 40-21 win.The teams have undergone quite different storylines as this season has progressed. Having won six straight, USC vaulted up in the College Football Rankings this week after defeating playoff contender then No. 4 Washington, but head coach Clay Helton has been working to keep his players focused on the task at hand this week.“We have a job to do,” Helton said. “That’s been the overriding emphasis each and every week: do our job, on this day, in this moment. And that’s what I’m going to keep selling.”The Bruins have struggled without their starting quarterback Josh Rosen, who was replaced by redshirt senior Mike Fafaul. The Bruins have relied heavily on their passing game as they are averaging just 87.2 rushing yards per game. Sophomore defensive end Porter Gustin emphasized the need to maintain that standard in this game.“We’ve talked all week about establishing that they’re not going to run the ball on us early,” Gustin said. “Making them one dimensional and getting after the quarterback, that’s a key for sure.”The Trojans will most likely be without junior defensive tackle Josh Fatu who is suffering from an ankle injury. The team expects to be at full strength on the offensive side of the field. The team is preparing for a Bruin defense that is extremely effective on third down.“Not only one of the best secondaries that we’ve faced, but also one of the defenses with the best third down efficiency,” Helton said. “They come in right at 32 percent, which is one of the top three in the league.”Combatting a staunch defense will be a Trojan offense that ranks second in the Pac-12 at third down efficiency, coming in at 46.2 percent, showing that the effort USC has put into third downs each week at practice has paid off.“That’s a key battle of keeping drives alive on the field,” Helton said.Redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold has impressed the nation during his tenure as the starting quarterback.“Everyone is seeing touches and everyone is making plays,” junior wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said.Darnold leads the nation in touchdown passes, completion percentage, yards per attempt and passing efficiency this season among freshman. He has thrown 22 scoring passes this year. Darnold is ranked fifth in the nation in ESPN’s Total QB Rating and is the highest rated freshman.Darnold has been able to spread the wealth among his receivers, not just targeting Smith-Schuster but also making names for wide receivers senior Darreus Rogers, sophomore Deontay Burnett and redshirt freshman tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe.“Smooth is the right word to describe Tay (Deontay Burnett),” Darnold said. “Tay is just one of those players who knows how to get open and knows how to do his thing once the ball comes to him.”Helton hasn’t downplayed the rivalry aspect of this week, but has said several times that he is trying to keep his team as calm as they can be. Smith-Schuster said on Tuesday that the coaching staff talked to the team in order to help them refocus after the Washington win and to not get caught up in the hype of the rivalry.Last year, the Trojans won 40-21 at the Coliseum, but the year before suffered a defeat at the Rose Bowl, 38-20. The 2014 win is just the fourth win the Bruins have had in the last 17 meetings.“The more and more the day comes closer, you get more excited,” Smith-Schuster said. “It’s a big rivalry game and everyone is excited, but you just have to keep calm.”The Trojans need to win on Saturday to keep their hopes of a Pac-12 South title alive in addition to needing Utah and Colorado to each lose one of their remaining two games.“The one thing I’ve been proud of this team for the past six weeks is we haven’t been about the hype,” Helton said. “We say execution fuels emotion.”last_img read more

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