Alexandra Ndolo: First Woman To Represent Kenya At A Pro Fencing Championship

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Alexandra Ndolo: First Woman To Represent Kenya At A Pro Fencing Championship
File image of Kenyan pro fencer Alexandra Ndolo. |Photo| Courtesy|

Alexandra Ndolo is a Kenyan German-born épée fencer. With the sport being unpopular in Kenya, she became the first woman to ever represent the country in an international stage.

Fencing is a combat sport that involves the use of a sword—épée, foil, or sabre—for attack and defence according to set movements and rules. Points are awarded through the sword’s contact with the body of a participant.

The left-handed épée fencer previously represented Germany before switching to compete for Kenya in 2022. She boasts an impressive career, racking up several medals in the junior and senior championships.

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Alexandra made history representing Kenya at the World Cup event in Tallin, Estonia where she finished 10th out of 271 participants. Here is her story as narrated by WoK.

Alexandra Ndolo: First Woman To Represent Kenya At A Pro Fencing Championship
Alexandra Ndolo (l) competes for Kenya at the FIE fencing World Cup held in Tallin, Estonia. |Courtesy| Twitter|

Background & Education

Alexandra was born in Bayreuth, Northern Bavaria, Germany, to a Kenyan father and Polish mother. 

Her late father, Dr Donald Ndolo, moved to Poland for his Master’s degree before proceeding to Germany for his doctorate studies where he settled with his family.

Career

Alexandra developed a passion for fencing at a young age but focused on it fully in 2007, which would eventually make her the first woman of colour to represent Germany in the sport at an international stage.

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“I fell in love with fencing when I was 11. When I was doing it, I fell in love with the moves and the way I could express myself through them, and how I could show how my mind works,” she told Olympics.com.

“I could have gone to a fencing boarding school when I was 14, but we didn’t have the money. I had to wait an additional seven years before I could start this career and (I told myself) I have a lot to catch up, but I’m capable of doing it and I will do it,” she admitted.

While some might view fencing as a combat sport, she chooses to focus on various other aspects of the game.

“I like the combination of tactics and precision, the thrill and the possibility of discovering my limits. Fighting with the epee(sword) comes closest to being in a real sword fight because it’s not only attacking that is important,” she said during a previous interview with an international media.

Alexandra Ndolo: First Woman To Represent Kenya At A Pro Fencing Championship
File image of Kenyan pro fencer Alexandra Ndolo. |Photo| Courtesy|

She represented Germany at the 2013 Summer Universiade held in Kazan, Russia. She competed in the women’s épée event at the World Fencing Championships in 2015, 2017 and 2019.

Ndolo reaped five gold medals at various European U23 circuits between 2013 -2018.

She won the silver medal in the women’s épée event at the 2017 European Fencing Championships held in Tbilisi, Georgia.

“It has been a journey of patience…When I won my first European medal, I was kind of like, ‘Okay, cool, you’ve shown the world what you can do’. And then it was like, ‘but you don’t want to be a one-hit-wonder.’ And since then, I won another medal at the Europeans.”

The 36-year-old won one of the bronze medals in her event at the 2019 European Fencing Championships held in Düsseldorf, Germany. She also competed at the 2022 European Fencing Championships held in Antalya, Turkey.

She won the bronze medal in the women’s épée event at the 2022 World Fencing Championships held in Cairo, Egypt.

Switching to Kenya

Alexandra always had the desire to represent her father’s home country which is known for world-class runners. For her, introducing the sport in Kenya was a dream come true.

“I’m sure there are a lot of people who say, ‘I love to cheer on the runners, but I’m not built like a long-distance runner.’ Let me do something else. I want to show them that whatever you choose, you can go for it and you can go far,” she said.

Alexandra Ndolo: First Woman To Represent Kenya At A Pro Fencing Championship
File image of Kenyan pro fencer Alexandra Ndolo. |Photo| Courtesy|

She is a founder member of the Kenya Fencing Federation(KFF) and doubles up as the director of International Relations and National Development.

In 2020, Alexandra was able to champion for KFF to join the International Fencing Federation which makes Kenya fencers eligible to participate in the Olympics, expanding the country’s sporting portfolio.

Ndolo has facilitated youths in Nairobi’s Huruma slums to take part in the sport. This enabled them to train for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifiers at the start of 2021.

“I think we’ve already accomplished something, but we don’t have our own fencing hall yet. But the potential that I see when I work with the children is huge,” she explained.

“It’s not a matter of dedication or potential, it’s more a matter of really giving, especially because I work mostly with kids at the moment, giving the kids a chance to show their talent.”

Representing Kenya

The left-handed épée fencer finished 10th out of 271 participants while representing Kenya at the World Cup event in Tallin, Estonia on November 13, 2022.

“Seeing the Kenyan flag raised high in the competition hall was a goosebumps moment. This was a great start into the season more to come,” an elated Alexandra tweeted.

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