Noam Mills will become the first Israeli female fencer to compete in the epee competition at Olympic level when she begins her medal quest in Beijing next week.
Despite falling just short of the Olympic Committee of Israel's criteria to qualify for this summer's Games, the 22-year-old was added to the roster after securing one of three spots for promising young talent.
"I am really excited. I'm moved because this is my country and I know what it means to be a representative for Israel in China," Mills told The Jerusalem Post, her voice laced with audible enthusiasm and sincerity.
In early July, Mills placed seventh at the European Championships. This accomplishment helped to propel her into the Games in excellent form and equip her with much needed confidence as she prepares for her debut in the Olympic fencing arena.
"I beat the world champion [Britta Heidemann] at the European Championships and it proved to me that I could beat anyone," Mills said of her performance.
Despite her relative inexperience at international level, Mills is determined to represent her country to the best of her ability and is considered an exciting prospect for the future.
Just two years ago she was awarded the title of top epee fencer in the world junior rankings.
Currently ranked at a career best 48th in the world, she will gain invaluable experience in Beijing that will help to develop her fencing prowess.
"I'll try to do my best and get as far as I can," said Mills. "Fencing is a sport where you can surprise your opponents, and that is what I will try to do."
Mills spent five days in Germany at a final training camp before departing for China, but said she has been working towards her upcoming matches since she was an eleven-year-old girl.
In April, Mills placed second in the European Zonal championship in Prague, earning her a spot on the Israeli Olympic delegation.
It is a memory she cited as her most exciting moment in sports.
"That's how I got my ticket," Mills explained. "It's a dream for every athlete. Since I was a child I've dreamed about the Olympics and hoped to be there."
She said she plans to attend Harvard University in the fall, after having deferred her admission order to train for the Olympics. Mills will be joined by American fencer Emily Cross in Beijing as one of two Harvard female fencers to qualify for the Olympic Games.