Photo by Michael Beckert. Produced by Biel Parklee.
It was a happy accident that led Miles Chamley-Watson to the sport of fencing. “I used to get in trouble at school a lot and it was offered as an after-school program,” said the British-born fencer, 26, who towers at 6’4” and has bleach blonde hair. “But I would always poke people with things.” As it turns out, Chamley-Watson was very good at poking people. This summer, he’s headed to Rio (his second Olympics – he competed in London in 2012) as part of the most decorated American men’s foil fencing team in Olympic history. He also became the first men’s fencer to ever win an individual senior world championship title. Impressive fencing titles aside, the sword fighter with striking good looks and tatts everywhere has also dabbled in the fashion world, modeling for likes of Ralph Lauren and VFILES. Here, Chamley-Watson chats with W about what he’s listening to when he’s training (he’s based in Chelsea in NYC), what he’ll do first if he wins, and more.
Hometown: New York City.
When did you first start training and then competing? I started fencing when I was about nine years old, it was an after-school activity to keep me out of trouble. Once the instructors saw that I could actually be good at it, they started entering me into competitions.
What originally attracted you to the sport? It was something I discovered by accident, really. I used to get in trouble at school a lot and it was offered as an after-school program, but I would always poke people with things. [Laughs.] So it was a natural and love at first sight…
What was your first major victory that made you think you might be good at fencing? Once I started to win at the Junior Olympics, I knew that I could actually make a career out of this.
How many hours per day do you spend training, on average? I wake up at 5:45 to train at Dogpound with all the instructors there. Then I go stretching for physical therapy at Bodhizone in Gramercy with Scott Weiss, and then I go fencing from 12 to 4 p.m. So, roughly, seven hours a day.
What’s been most distracting or challenging to you as you train for Rio? I’m currently training without a coach, and it has been challenging for me but also a big test for me in finding new ways and new people to train me in preparation for this moment. My coach has not been able to travel with me at all, and has been very limited in his ability to give me private lessons because of all of his surgeries this past year on his knee. Imagine traveling alone to competitions without any coaches…
What’s your pre-competition? Take a long bath or a super long shower. When I wake up, I plug my speakers in while I am getting ready in the hotel and then put on my headphones and blast my jams.
What’s always in your gym bag? About a million Nike T-shirts and spandex to change into throughout my training day, Perky Jerky for protein snacks, Red Bull for energy (but also because I love it), headphones, a portable charger, and gum.
What Olympian you are most excited to meet in Rio? To be honest, not many. I would love to meet Neymar. We both have a similar style and of course, I want to meet a Brazilian and thank him for hosting me in his country for the Olympics.
Who will you call first if you win in Rio? I would call my mom but she will already be there in the stands, so probably a PSA to all my haters!
What will you do first if you win in Rio? Buy out an entire beach.
Meet the other stars of Team USA here: