Skyline High School senior Ketki Ketkar brought home the bronze medal after competing in the Junior World Fencing Championships last year.
Now, Ketkar, 17, has once again been selected as one of four women who will represent the U.S. at the event. This year, the competition will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from April 5 to 11.
Ketkar said she is excited to compete at the championship again. She anticipates that it will be more difficult this year due the higher age group and increase in the number of countries competing.
Ketkar had previously been competing only with fencers under the age of 17 as a cadet. Moving up to the junior bracket means she now competes against opponents between ages 17 and 19.
“I’m looking forward to it more since it’s more of a challenge,” she said.
Kevin Mar, coach and executive officer at Kaizen Academy, where Ketkar trains, mentioned that Ketkar is currently ranked 131st in the world in senior women’s épée, which is the class of sword that she competes in.
“This is remarkable since she is only 17 and in the first year of the junior bracket,” Mar said in an email.
Ketkar credits her coach, Yasser Eldarawani, as well as her twin sister, Mallika, for her extensive success.
“I think Mallika definitely supports me, especially with training. She knows how I fence and she’s able to see my mistakes,” Ketkar said.
Mar added that “Mallika’s been there since day one,” throughout Ketkar’s seven-year fencing career. They “constantly push each other ahead to grow,” he said.
In addition to their amazing accomplishments as fencers, the sisters have used their skills to give back to the community.
In June 2020, they hosted two free online fencing camps that ran for a week each. Participants from over six different nations attended these camps, where they practiced conditioning and footwork over video. They demonstrated specific skills and did some video analysis with participants to simulate a training class environment.
Additionally, the sisters started a series of panel discussions called “Women in Fencing” on YouTube. They have invited different athletes and coaches to talk about issues ranging from gender equality to mental health.
“We are trying to encourage more girls to get into fencing,” Mallika Ketkar said, especially since many people may think of fencing as a men’s sport. “Not many girls play with swords.”
Mar said he is extremely proud to witness Ketki Ketkar’s growth over the last seven years.
“She is like a cornerstone of the [Kaizen] Academy,” he said.