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Puerto Rican fencer keeps Olympic hopes alive in Rochester

Nov 20, 2017

Lorenzo Sanchez practicing at Rochester Fencing Club
Credit Beth Adams/WXXI News

Rochester is serving as a temporary home for hundreds of residents of Puerto Rico recently.

With electricity and water in short supply following Hurricane Maria, they are seeking refuge, at least for a while.

For Lorenzo Sanchez, it was a very specific need that brought him here. The 20-year old college student is a fencer for the Puerto Rican Fencing Federation.  He is training and for now, living with Iris Zimmerman, a former Olympian and co-owner of the Rochester Fencing Club.

"Why not?” he said. “It's a great opportunity for me and I'm training for the Barranquilla 2018 this summer - that's the Central American games. We need to get prepared for that, so why not here?"

Sanchez is one of about ten Puerto Rican fencers training now in the U.S. Zimmerman said the others went to Long Island, Atlanta, Texas and Arizona.

"This could be a life changing effect for a lot of them. A lot of these athletes are coming here and fencing at these clubs and thinking about staying here long term."

Lorenzo Sanchez
Credit Beth Adams/WXXI News

For now, Sanchez plans on staying in Rochester until mid January. He says he's grateful to be training alongside a former Olympian.

“It's awesome and I hope I can get some tips I can use in the future, so let's see what I can learn from her."

There is a go fund me page asking for donations for the the Puerto Rican team's transportation and living expenses.  Sanchez' mother paid for his flight to Rochester, but he's still raising money for living expenses.