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‘It never feels routine,’ says Hungarian fencer Aida Mohamed, on her 7th Olympic Games

'It never feels routine,' says Hungarian fencer Aida Mohamed, on her 7th Olympic Games

Aida Mohamed says she's putting in longer hours and she's more experienced, but she's as excited now as her first time at the Olympics in 1996. She joined The World's host Marco Werman to talk about her fencing career and the bubbling anticipation as the Tokyo Games begin.

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Hungarian fencer Aida Mohamed, foreground, trains with her coach Antal Solti at a training camp in Budapest, Hungary, June 24, 2021.

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Laszlo Balogh/AP/File photo

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The 2020 Summer Olympic Games have finally kicked off in Tokyo, after a yearlong delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid numerous restrictions during the games, athletes will be tested for the coronavirus frequently, and fans won’t be allowed to attend competitions in person.

Related: Hawaiians highlight surfing’s cultural roots as it makes its Olympic debut

The opening ceremony was complete with fireworks, nods to Japan’s history and culture and a drone display in the night sky. And tennis star Naomi Osaka concluded the festivities by lighting the Olympic cauldron atop a peak inspired by Mount Fuji.

For many athletes, this will be their first Olympic games. But for others, this will certainly not be their first rodeo.

Related: Sports of Olympic past: Where are they now?

For Hungarian fencer Aida Mohamed, this will be her 7th Olympic Games — a record for female athletes in her country. Her first time competing in the Olympics was back in 1996 in Atlanta.

She spoke with The World’s host Marco Werman about what it was like for her then and now.

Listen to the full interview to hear the whole discussion.

Marco Werman: So, Aida, this will be your seventh time competing in the Olympics. What do these games mean for you specifically?Aida Mohamed: Yes, this is the seventh. And I can see in Hungary, this is a record breaker. So, I’m very proud. And, you know, if they write your name in the record book, it’s always a great thing. I know my friends and family are very proud of me and happy, which means a lot to me. It’s a great feeling.After so many trips to the Olympics, even one like this in Tokyo that is so unusual, has it ever started to feel routine?It never feels routine. Even [during] my last tournament, I was excited [in the same way] as my first tournament, and I can say the same for the Olympic Games. Only one thing changed, it’s that I’m more experienced, this is number one. And the second, that I’m training harder than ever, because, I can say [at] my age, I have to keep up with the younger ones. So, I even put [in] more hours than I would before.Well, you make a good point. You’ve been doing this for a while. The first time competing in the Olympics was in 1996 in Atlanta, which feels like a lifetime ago. What do you remember from those first Olympic Games that you attended?I remember I was one of the youngest team members. Everything was so big and so bright. I remember the audience, so many people. And in fencing, usually you don’t get as many visitors or spectators. I remember in the Olympic Games, it was fully packed and that was a great thing to compete under those circumstances. Now in Tokyo, [it] will be very empty.How do you feel about that?I just have to keep the crowd there. I have to think that, you know, there will be people sitting around and cheering for me. But I think it makes a big difference feeling-wise. And it just always helps when someone is cheering for you, when you can hear the people screaming and [the] noise. That’s always a great thing.Yeah, it’s that energy that you get. I’m curious how you got into fencing in the first place, Aida. How old were you? What drew you to the sport?I was 9-years-old in elementary school, and [at] that time, my coach from my old club came to school and [was] looking for kids, selecting [them]. I remember very clearly that I had to [do] some exercise, but [at] that time I was a really shy little girl. And I was so excited that I couldn’t [do the exercise properly]. But even [at] that time, I was fast and I was good in the gymnastics lesson. And my school teacher advised me to go and start with the others. My coach, Antal Solti, has been my coach 35 years.Right, he’s been with you the whole time. What has he meant to you?Well, he’s more than a coach, for sure. He was kind of like a father. I always say he was always checking [on me], not only in sports. He would tell me what to do, what not to do, but he was always paying attention to my school[ing]. So, I remember those days when he would ask everybody, “OK bring your notes from school.” He would have some words if you didn’t have the right notes. So he would say, “OK, now you have to study harder. There’s no excuse.” But he was always just like a father. If I had any problem, even nowadays, I could tell him and I could discuss [it] with him. He was always a very strict man, and loud. But if I had any problem, I could always go to him and share. And I remember when training, that my girlfriends or my fencing mates, you know, somebody would cry on his shoulder because of love problems, somebody would cry because of school problems, I was crying for some other problems. And I think that’s what made him really unique.So, the seventh Olympic Games for you — the first Hungarian to do this, ever. How do you want to be remembered?I just hope that people will remember me as an example of my hard work, not by the numbers, but as somebody who enjoyed fencing. And many times, I heard that people love my fencing style and my techniques. Just remember there’s a big fighter.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity. AP contributed to this report.

Horrible Histories – Flame lyrics

[Verse 1]
Greeks:
In 776BC Olympics were begun
Greece was the only country, so naturally we won
Cheats built bronzes of God Zeus were we honest winners
The answer’s no we had more statues than you’ve had hot dinners
Our games meant truce was called in war a peace every 4 years
But wrestling was so violent that bouts could end in tears
No girls allowed to watch or run that might sound rude
But makes sense when I tell you we competed nude

[Chorus]
FLAME
It’s gonna burn forever
Love for Olympic heroes
FLAME
We’d like one next however
Sadly it’s Emperor Nero
Hey watch it you two, alright

[Verse 2]
Emperor Nero:
I went from Rome to Greece so I could play them at their games
In 67AD you know I won Olympic fame
Told them to include a contest based on poetry
Not much good for sportsmen no, but brilliant for me
Crashed my racing chariot but still awarded gold
Hey my Olympics my rules
To argue would be bold
I won every medal that was up for grabs
The crowd loved it well they had to or I would have had them stabbed, OK?

[Chorus]
Greeks:
FLAME

Nero:
Olympic champion that’s me
My games were emperors own round

Greeks:
FLAME

Nero:
Think I was bad in 393
Christian Rome had them banned

[Hook]
all:
It’s over, it’s over, it’s over, it’s over, it’s over, it’s over

Nero:

SHAME

[Verse 3]
Baron de Coubertin:
WAIT not so fast

I’m Baron de Coubertin, a famous French historian
I read of the Olympic Games thought I should try restoring them
They’d be just like the old days I said but did propose
That unlike Greeks Victorians should do them wearing clothes
In 1896 we launched the games in dear old Greece
Hoped it would make men more morale as well as less obese
We built a stadium so we could start to play
Games of the modern Olympics which we still have today

[Chorus]
All:
FLAME

Baron de Coubertin:
I’m on my personal glory
But no-one remembers my name

All:
FLAME

Baron de Coubertin:
So here to finish our story
A man who has gold plated fame

[Verse 4]
Jesse Owens:
I’m Jesse Owens fastest man in 1936
I took home 4 gold medals yeah, but that’s just the basics
What you should know about the fact I was victorious
Is, it made Herr Hitler mad ha it made him furious
Hitler said Berlin should be the games Germanic base
So he could show the world Aryans were the master race
I won in 4 events he had to back pedal
His evil theory destroyed with every medal

[Chorus]
All:
FLAME
It’s gonna burn forever
Olympics are never in doubt
FLAME
A fire of sporting endeavour
You realise it’s actually gone out
Olympic, Olympic
FLAME