IEU Athletics has members from all over the world, who play a wide range of sports and study anything from business to computer science. We provide support to our student athletes so they can study without giving up what they’re passionate about.

Today, we’re talking to Javier Fernández, a Dual Degree student and fencing professional. Take a peek into the life of a student athlete at IE University.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Javier Fernández Pérez and I’m from San Adrián (Navarre). I’ve lived in Spain my whole life, except for the year I spent in Germany at the age of 14—I went there to improve my German and fencing skills—and one exchange semester at Bocconi University in Italy. I’m in my fifth year of the Dual Degree Business Administration + International Relations at the IE University Madrid campus.

Javier Fernandez

When did you start practicing fencing? What made you choose this sport?

I practice fencing—more precisely, the discipline called épée. I started when I was only four years old, and have been practicing it ever since. I started because it was an activity offered at my school, and my older sister already practiced it. I went to all her competitions to support her, and I fell in love with it. In the meantime, I tried many other sports (triathlon, indoor football, basketball, judo, etc.), but, apart from judo, none of them entertained me as much as fencing did.

What’s your practice schedule like? How do you balance practice and studying?

I practice five or six hours a day (two or three in the morning, and another three in the evening). At the beginning, it was hard to organize myself, due to my intense school schedule, but I contacted IEU Athletics and the undergraduate department, and we were able to find a solution. I would like to add that although it’s hard to manage my time, I was sure that I didn’t want to give up fencing, because I believe that in order to be successful in life, you must find balance. For me, the main pillars that have helped me keep this balance are: fencing, studying, and my social life.

What’s your opinion on Liquid Learning?

At the beginning of the lockdowns and the pandemic, I was a bit scared of how training would change. I decided to embrace resilience, and started thinking about different ways I could train at home and improve my skills. This is difficult, because in fencing, you’re always fencing against someone, so I had to do a lot of mental training to envision that there was an opponent there with me at home. While Liquid Learning doesn’t provide the same type of education as 100% face-to-face lectures, this format has helped me a lot, because I have more time for training and studying, since I don’t “lose” time commuting to uni.

Do you have competitions? How does IE University support you when your competition schedule?

Two weeks ago, the Spanish Championship took place—the first competition since COVID-19 started. I won the Under-23 (U-23) competition and was named the new Spanish U-23 Épée Champion.

While it’s good news that competitions are back, the schedule for next season isn’t out yet, and there’s uncertainty about what will happen. This is a bit frustrating for me, as I’m used to participating in international competitions, and since January 2020, I haven’t had the chance to participate in one.

Concerning how IE University supports me, I would like to thank the university for being so flexible. On top of helping me with the schedules, any time I had an important competition overlapping with classes and even exams, the university worked with me to find a solution, and we always managed to come up with the option that best suited all parties involved.

What do you like about IEU Athletics?

What I like most about IEU Athletics is how close they are to the members. Since the very beginning, they’ve helped me and offered me different resources I could benefit from. These main benefits consist of: daily access to a gym, physiotherapist once a week, financial support to buy my materials, and financial support to compete abroad. All these resources are very valuable for people like me who compete in highly demanding competitions, because this requires spending a lot of money on taking care of yourself so you can bring your best “you” to the pitch.

Do you have any recommendations for future students who would like to join IEU Athletics?

If you’re considering joining IEU Athletics, don’t doubt it for a second. You’ll immediately feel like a member of a big family.

Many students are, like Javier, excelling in their studies while pursuing their athletic dreams. Will you join them?