Gila County Attorney Wields More Than A Sword Of Justice

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This month, for the first time ever, an Arizonan will lead the Women's fencing team at the World Championships in Lisbon, Portugal.

But that's not the only history being made.

That Arizonan, Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores, may just be the first lawyer and cancer survivor to soar so high in any global athletic competition.

Flores, 31, is among the top fencing athletes chosen by the United States Fencing Association to represent the U.S. at the 2002 World Championships in Lisbon Aug. 14 through 22.

"It's a little bit surprising, mostly because I had thyroid cancer just one year ago," Flores said. "I had surgery, so I didn't expect to be competing at any high level. But in December of 2001, I won the North American championships. It was pure mind over matter. I've been doing consistently well over the past year, and they have me ranked rather high."

The World Championships are held every year by the Federation Internationale d'Escrime, the international body which governs the sport of fencing. More than 100 countries are affiliated with the organization, including the U.S.

Four athletes have been selected in each weapon: men's e, foil and saber, and women's e, foil and saber. In addition to the individual competition, there is the World Team Championships in each weapon, with three fencers on a team. Flores will compete in her first Women's Championship in both the women's individual e and the team e competition.

"Daisy is amazing," David Ribaudo, chairman of the Arizona Division of the United States Fencing Competition, said. "She's probably the most talented of the women fencers in this country. She has a more European style than the rest of our fencers, so she should do very well in Lisbon."

Born and raised in Globe, Flores has been fencing since she discovered the pleasures of the sport in college 11 years ago.

"I call it physical chess," she said. "Basically, you not only have to outmuscle your opponent, you have to outthink him. Fencing combines the best of martial arts, boxing and karate with the mental challenges of the game of chess."

A mastery of the sport, she said, "gives you an excellent sense of confidence. It makes you feel like you can take on just about anything and everyone. But you need to know your weaknesses and where you can counteract them with your opponent's weaknesses."

That knowledge, Flores quipped, is also very handy in the heat of legal battles. But she does have one regret:

"It's too bad judges won't let lawyers enter the courtroom with an e."

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