COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Olentangy Orange freshman Justice Cullivan is making a name for himself in the fencing community.
The 15 year old went to Louisville earlier this month at the North American Cup and placed 8th out of 280 fencers in Division I, the highest level of competition.
Justice started fencing at eight years old and is now nationally ranked with his sights set even higher.
“I just like poking people with swords,” Justice said with a laugh. “That’s fun of course.”
Winning is fun too and Justice has been doing plenty of that lately.
“He’s been on a pretty steep trajectory since the beginning but this last year he’s really taken off,” said Doug Findlay, Justice’s coach at Columbus Fencing and Fitness in Dublin.
Justice is the 20th ranked foil fencer in the U.S. for the 14-to-16 year old age group. That ranking earned him a spot on Team USA at the Cadet World Cup in Nuremberg and Budapest this past November.
“It was amazing. Best feeling in the world when I got to go you know when you work so hard for something for a dream and you finally get it, it’s the best feeling in the world,” he said.
Justice topped that feeling by finishing 8th at the sport’s highest level in the North American Cup on January 6.
“He actually started at 7 a.m. and finished at 8 p.m. so he had a 13 hour day,” Justice’s mother Simone Cullivan said. “He looked really strong and really good so I was very happy for him cause it was honestly not what we expected at all when we went into that morning.”
Findlay has been coaching Justice for five years and knows what an Olympic fencer looks like. Findlay was a fencing referee at the Olympics in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro.
“If you’ve got all of the pieces, if you’ve got talent, dedication, fire then those are the ones that really stand out,” Findlay said. “When you’ve got all of those pieces like Justice does, then yeah you’ve got a chance to make a mark.”
Justice also has a chance because of his mental approach to the sport.
“I’m going to go my hardest. I don’t care if I’m higher ranked than this person. They’re going to get the best of me because you never know,” he said. “I talk to myself and I tell myself I’m going to win this and I make sure that I finish the bout and I don’t go easy on anyone.”