Printer analyst by day, sword fighter by night, Leland Guillemin came across his passion for fencing by accident. “I used to play hockey and I got injured pretty badly,” he explains. “I had to do something else, and I saw an ad for fencing in the paper and decided to try it. I knew nothing about fencing at the time. Everything I thought I knew came from the Princess Bride, one of my favourite movies.”

Leland Guillemin, on the left and inset, scores a single point at provincials earlier this year.

Leland Guillemin, on the left, scores a single point at provincials earlier this year.

The road to a top-ranked Canadian fencer has been long but worth it. “I started fencing in Regina and found out Saskatoon has one of the best clubs in Canada, so I would drive up on Fridays and get destroyed by the fencers here,” he laughs. Guillemin moved to Saskatoon to study information technology at SIAST and began working for Saskatoon Health Region Information Technology Services after graduating.

Guillemin competes in the épée event, which is one of the three disciplines of fencing. He describes it as “chess with muscle” with competitors rallying for position to close the distance between them on the playing surface, called the piste, and to prepare for an attack or lunge to score a point. In épée, any part of the opponent’s body will score. Fortunately, all those body parts are covered with clothing that’s reinforced with Kevlar and can absorb up to 800 Newtons of force, enough to absorb the shock of a sword breaking on impact. The mesh mask absorbs 1600 Newtons of force. Even then, the hand, feet and the back of the neck are exposed, so the possibility of injury is present.

Guillemin’s goal is to achieve a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics. To get there, he trains up to six days a week and adheres to a strict diet regimented by his nutritionist. He also attributes much of his success to sponsors who support him and a manager and workplace that understands his need to take large chunks of vacation time for competition. “It’s a lot to ask of them for nothing in return,” he says humbly. Maybe not nothing: he’s now ranked fifth in Canada in épée.

“We are very excited for Leland, and pleased to be able to accommodate his training and competition schedule,” says his manager Kristine Goulding. “It’s one of the ways we can show our support to a valued member of the ITS team. His focus and dedication to the sport is inspiring and is reflected in his work ethic. Leland is a team player and always delivers a quality service to our clients in the Region.”

Guillemin will compete at three grand prix events in the next few months including France, Switzerland and Argentina. Winning at any or all of those events will pave the way for him to attend the Pan American Championships in June. And some day, a call to ITS for help with your printer could put you in direct conversation with an Olympic athlete.