Serge Timacheff from caught up with several fencers in Cairo during the Men’s and Women’s foil competitions.

This is our first of several audio interviews from Cairo where Serge catches up with Jonathan Tiomkin for Jon’s views on the current world cup season, the US prospects, and thoughts on video replay and the current foil timings.


Transcript of Audio:

Serge Timacheff: Jonathan Tiomkin tell us, so how’s the season going? How are preparations going for St. Petersburg and then beyond, looking towards Beijing for next year?

Jonathan Tiomkin: Well, right now we’re building for St. Petersburg. We just had four World Cups in a row. Right now we just beat Bella Russia or actually we beat them pretty badly. It’s kind of nice. The World Cup season is okay. Not as great as we would’ve liked. Jed [Dupree] made a very good result in Korea. He made a Top 16, was very good, and Andras just made a 16 in Japan, which is also very good. Also, Kurt Goten made a 32 in Japan as well. So, so far not bad, not bad.

Serge Timacheff: One thing we’re talking with different fencers about is how they like video refereeing and how they like the wireless if they’ve used it. But the first thing, video refereeing, how is it working for you or how is it not working?

Jonathan Tiomkin: I think it’s working but they need to change something because a lot of times the momentum of the bout gets stopped for people that want to – they just need time to, like, relax. And so, it’s good but it has to be better. It has to be better. As far as the wireless, I don’t think it’s that good because I’ve seen a lot of World Cups where touches don’t hit. So I don’t think the wireless is working properly.

Serge Timacheff: One thing we’re talking about is, now that we’re coming up on four years of using the new timing, how is that for you? Because also some people have said that there was a new plastic kit that the Italians were using that was getting more touches than anybody else’s and [there are] all kinds of things. And so how has the adaptation to the new timing been and what other changes have you seen going on that might be affecting it?

Jonathan Tiomkin: Well, first of all in the beginning when they changed the timing, the fencing definitely suffered, but now I’ve seen a lot of very high-level fencing. I can’t complain about the level of fencing, and I think people adapt and the game is getting a lot better. In the beginning people weren’t attacking at all because they didn’t know how to coordinate themselves. But now that’s definitely not the case. People are making great complex actions, beautiful touches. A far as flicking goes, people flick. People adapt to their technique and they learned how to hit with the target.

As far as the Italians soft tip or plastic tip, I’m not really sure and the FIE, I think, is looking into it to see what’s happening with that so.

Serge Timacheff: So are you saying then that the changes made some years ago that everybody was complaining about actually may not have been so bad after all?

Jonathan Tiomkin: It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. I think as far as the FIE is concerned, they’re successful because they got their style of fencing that they wanted to see. They want to see straight touches and they got their wish. I think in the beginning fencers definitely weren’t as high level as they were before, but I think that’s not the case right now. I think that the level is very high. Fencing is very good right now. I’m enjoying it.

Serge Timacheff: What are your biggest challenges right now?

Jonathan Tiomkin: Personally? You know, personally, it’s always a matter of, especially in the US, finding the best time to train, doing a very good job in preparation, and also I think for all fencers, the most important thing is the mental aspect of the game, getting yourself in the right state of mind to compete.

Serge Timacheff: You pride yourself on being sort of a spectacular fencer. I mean you’re a big action fencer, you, you know, we’ve seen obviously big jumps from you on occasion, but we’ve seen, you’re very athletic and you fence foil in a way that’s very interesting to the audience. Is that something you do intentionally or is that something that you practice – is that something that just is you, or what is that?

Jonathan Tiomkin: I think it’s my personality. I mean I think if anyone would say, you know, go to dinner with me and we all go out together, they’d see that I’m, I enjoy and we all like to laugh and have a good time and I just try to put myself, my own personality, on the strip and whatever comes out, I hope that it greats for everyone. I enjoy when everyone else has a good time from my fencing, and – but it’s not intentional. I don’t try to do that. I just try and be myself out there.

Serge Timacheff: You’ve also got a personal life and a business life. You have a club in New York and so how is it with this busy World Cup season? How is it managing that?

Jonathan Tiomkin: First of all, it’s very difficult to manage my club, but I have a really great coach helping me out. His name is Boris Vakin. He’s actually the Junior National epee coach and without him I’d really be, you know, I’d be troubled, so if you’re listening Boris, I really appreciate all the help as far as my personal training and getting lessons at the club. It’s not as easy as it should be but you gotta deal with whatever comes up.

Serge Timacheff: And so what are the next, what’s coming up here in the near future, in the next couple of months? What’s the season look like for you?

Jonathan Tiomkin: Well right now we’re in Egypt. After that, next weekend we’re going to be in Montreal for the World Cup there. After that we have a small break, around ten days, and then we’re going to go to Venezuela and Cuba, compete there. And then we have a very nice break for the summer, except for nationals. And then we have to compete in the individual competition in Montreal which will count very heavily for the Olympic season points.

Serge Timacheff: Who are the biggest challengers within the American zone?

Jonathan Tiomkin: The biggest challengers are definitely Jed Dupree, Andras Horanyi, Josh McGuire, in my own mind.

Serge Timacheff: What about from a team standpoint?

Jonathan Tiomkin: There’s not team. It’s only two people.

Serge Timacheff: But there is a team for the World Championships next year.

Jonathan Tiomkin: Yes, but I mean, as long as we’re on a team we’ll go there.

Serge Timacheff: I see. So there isn’t a qualification issue for the World Championships in terms of team next year. That’s not an issue?

Jonathan Tiomkin: Not an issue.

Serge Timacheff: Alright. Thank you very much.

Jonathan Tiomkin: Alright, my pleasure.