(Courtney) I have been fencing for almost my entire life and have never taken longer than a two week break from it. Just a couple of years ago fencing “season” was literally all year long. There were 12 Senior World Cups, national tournaments, zonal championships and World Championships. When I was younger I also fenced in Cadet and Junior World Cups and World Championships and I fenced for college. Since I was 15 I have made every world team and fenced at every World Championships. I’m not joking when I said fencing was literally all year long. Fortunately in the last 2-3 years the senior circuit has been decreased to only 8 World Cups and there is a small break of two months after World Championships before the first World Cup now. Unfortunately since that schedule has been implemented I have been 100% devoted to training for this last Olympics in Rio and I had no time to take a longer break than a couple weeks. I remember after the London Olympics in 2012 that I was promised a break by everyone. After our surprising Bronze Medal however we started making money because of our team world ranking and it was hard to turn down money that we so desperately needed. So we continued the year after London and then the time for training for Rio shortly came up after that. Right after the Rio Olympics ended I put my foot down and demanded a break. I had been training as my full time job for almost three years and I mentally could not keep going. I am now going on almost month 4 of my break and have only picked up an epee once which was at a national tournament in which Kelley and I won first and second. Ironically the year leading up to the Rio Olympics I only made one top eight at a NAC and didn’t even make any more points the rest of the year. I really believe that my break from the sport and a clear head helped me perform. Fencing relies heavily on one’s mental state and strength and I can say at the Rio Olympics that was arguably my only problem which prevented a possible medal. I’m hoping this relatively long break from the sport will help restart my brain and I hope when I start fencing again in a month or two that I will be ready to work hard again. Unfortunately fencing also relies heavily on one’s physical strength and that is going to be a huge obstacle once I return back to fencing. Physical strength can always be regained but mental strength is not as easy.