Maia Weintraub ’21 Heads to the Olympics
Maia Weintraub’s busy summer started with her graduation from Friends Select School. A lifer who attended Friends Select for 14 years, Maia began attending Princeton University this fall. But first she traveled to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, as a member of the U.S. delegation for fencing. Ranked 62nd in the world and 5th in the women’s foil in the senior group, Maia—one of the youngest of her six-member team—served as both an alternate competitor and training partner. “I was excited to watch Olympic fencing in person, see the process firsthand, and cheer for my teammates from the sidelines,” she shared.
Maia began fencing at the age of 8, inspired by two of her uncles who competed at the college level. Her intense training started at the Fencing Academy of Philadelphia and very quickly became more than a hobby. From the age of 16, Maia has been fencing above her age bracket at the senior level. “Because I started so young, it feels as if fencing has always been a part of my life. It’s hard to remember a time when I wasn’t doing it,” she reflected. “Once I started competing internationally at the adult level and against athletes I had only ever seen on television, I realized I could become bigger.”
Starting in middle school, Maia began traveling to New York City for her training with Fencers Club, the oldest continuously existing organization in the country dedicated to fencing; until the COVID-19 pandemic, Maia was commuting up to four times weekly after school to practice. With travel for international competitions beginning at an incredibly young age, Maia understands how her experience has been unique. “I have had to sacrifice a lot, especially my social life. But fencing has also given me things I would not have had otherwise,” she said. “It has given me a community of my own, and has allowed me to travel the country and the world. It has also taught me time management, which I’m grateful for and which will serve me well even after I’m done fencing.”
As for what’s to come post-Tokyo, Maia already has her sights set on the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. Additionally, she is looking forward to Princeton, where she will continue her fencing career as an NCAA athlete. As she closed her 14-year chapter at Friends Select, she looked back with gratitude. “I wouldn’t have been able to achieve my fencing goals if I hadn’t been at Friends Select. I’m thankful to my teachers and advisors for working with me ahead of each season, and guiding me with work that I could complete ahead of time,” she shared. “The support of my friends also helped. They gave me a sense of normalcy in a chaotic environment. I always thought every school was like my school, but I’ve since realized I was very lucky.”