GB JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS 2014 REPORT
The 2014 GB Junior Championships took place on 9th February at the University of East London’s fabulous Sports Dock arena. The event saw 282 fencers compete across all six weapons.
Fifty-eight fencers took part in this event and it was two fencers from Millfield School Fencing Club who stood at the top of the ranking list after the first round – Roo Whelan and Craig Worman – though neither was to make it past the round of 16. Whelan fell to Charles Dean (Truro Fencing Club), 15-10, in the round of 32 and Worman was knocked out, 15-13 by Aml Sinclair (Brixton Fencing Club) in the next round. Paul Sanchez-Lethem (Brixton Fencing Club) was ranked third after the first round and he fought his way through the field to make the final. He overcame William Grealey (Redhill & Reigate Epee Club), 14-13 in the quarterfinal and his teammate, Sinclair ran him close in the semi-final, but he won 11-10. His opponent in the final, Laurence Peplow, dropped two fights in the first round but also made it through to the quarterfinal with relative ease. He went on to beat Harry Peck (Brixton Fencing Club) 15-14 and then Harrison Nichols (Redhill & Reigate Epee Club), 15-13 to make the gold medal match.
The final started well for Sanchez-Lethem as he controlled the distance to take a two-hit lead. Peplow fought back with great intelligence and only trailed 3-2 at the break. In the second period Peplow was able to level the score on a number of occasions only for Sanchez-Lethem to steal the lead back. At the end of the second period the Brixton fencer led 7-6. Content to sit back and urge his opponent into attacking him, Sanchez-Lethem was able to open up the lead to 10-6 at the start of the third period. With the clock running down, Peplow was forced to chase and Sanchez-Lethem was able to pick his opponent off. He eventually went on to win the national title, 15-9.
In a competition with forty-seven competitors only Eleanor Cormack (Kenilworth Sword Fencing Club) and Amy Radford (Malvern Hills Sword Fencing) emerged from the first round without being defeated. Both progressed to the quarterfinal stage of the tournament but Lydia Stanier (Furth) defeated Radford, 15-11 and Elisabeth Powell (Team Melia) knocked out Cormack, 15-10. Those two went on to contest for the gold medal.
Powell started more aggressively than Stanier and whilst she scored first, Stanier was able to use her height advantage and extra reach to pick her opponent off. Before long Stanier led 4-1 but a more measured approach from Powell saw her fight back to lead 5-4 at the first break. Stanier started more purposefully in the second period and took the lead 7-6 before Powell steadied herself and took the lead back (10-8) at the second break. Stanier came out for the final period and for the first time made a concerted effort to push her opponent back. The two traded hits before a double took the score to 13-11 in Powell’s favour. With the clock showing well over a minute remaining there was plenty of time for this intriguing battle to offer more twists and turns. One more double and Powell was just one hit away from the title. Two attacks in quick succession from Stanier and the score was even at 14-14. Neither fencer was prepared to let time run out but the subsequent double counted for nothing. Stanier bravely attacked and with just sixteen seconds left on the clock became the 2014 Junior women’s epee champion with a single light.
The largest field in all of the Junior events saw seventy-five men’s foilists compete for the national title. George Hendrie (Chichester) was the pick of the first round fencers, winning all of his fights and only dropping three hits in doing so. Hendrie made light work of his elimination fights until he met Lyle Bryant (Sussex House Fencing Club) in the quarterfinal. A nervy match saw him edge through 15-14 followed by a 15-11 victory over Rajan Rai (Newham Swords) to make the gold medal match. Hussain Sadiq (Academy) was second seed after the first round but he didn’t make it past the round of 32, where he was beaten, 15-12, by Isaac Mulcahy (Glastonbury). However it was Daniel Kiss (Salle Kiss) who made it two finals in a row, (having taken the Cadet Men’s Foil silver the previous day). He dropped a fight in the first round but progressed to a semi-final match with Charlie St John (ZFW Fencing Club) with little fuss. A closer match followed but the Salle Kiss fencer went on to fight for gold, winning 15-13.
The final was certainly a gritty affair. Both Hendrie and Kiss were keen to get things going and they went at each other. Kiss was the more compact of the two but Hendrie’s free-flowing approach proved effective and he led 9-4 with a minute left in the first period. He was landing most of his hits in Kiss’s open line whilst successfully escaping when his attack did not reach the target. Kiss knew something had to change and he elected not to give Hendrie as much ground. This worked well and he closed the gap to 9-8 down going into the first break. Kiss started the second period more aggressively and despite some early success Hendrie seemed to find even more fight and took the title 15-10 with a beautiful parry riposte.
Thirty-one fencers took part in this event and after the first round Leah King (Sussex House Fencing Club) and Yvonne Chart (Truro Fencing Club) topped the ranking list. Only one other fencer, Alexandra Fitton (Salle Kiss) came out of the first round with a 100% record. Fitton did not make it past the round of 16, losing 15-12 to Isabella Gill (Salle Paul). King went out in the quarterfinal, 8-7, to Lucy Taylor (Mid Down Fencing Club). Chart’s day ended in the semi-final to Ayesha Fihosy who edged a tremendous fight 15-14. Fihosy, who had lost a fight in the first round, fought well in the direct elimination stage of the event. It was back-to-back finals for the Cadet women’s foil champion, Jade Clarke (Wellington Swords). She also lost a fight in the first round but unlike Fihosy had to battle through the table. 15-14 wins over Georgia Poil (Surrey Swords) and Chiara McDermott (Salle Boston) was followed by a relatively easy 15-9 win over Taylor in her semi-final match.
A sharp start to the match for gold saw Clarke take a very quick two-hit lead. Fihosy was quickly able to focus though and drew level almost as quickly. She then went on to take control of the fight with an assured display of distance control combined with a fast and more importantly, accurate hand. She led 7-3 with two minutes of the first period still left. Clarke was not done though. She started mixing closing counter-attacks with parry ripostes and drew level at 11-11 with 30 seconds left in the opening period. Fihosy scored once before the break but this fight was still on a knife-edge. Both fencers came out with a clear game plan with Fihosy intent on increasing the pace of the fight and Clarke determined to fence at a longer distance. A fantastic finish to the fight saw Fihosy take the gold 15-13 but the Cadet Champion should be pleased with her performance in the Junior event.
Forty-nine competitors took to the piste in this event and it was no surprise to see Ruben Amsalem and Jonathan “JJ” Webb, both from Camden Fencing Club, topping the table after the first round. In fact, they came out of the first round with identical records with Amsalem taking top spot in a random selection by the event computer. The highlight of Amsalem’s progress to the semi-final was the meeting between him and his brother, Eden. Ruben progressed 15-12 before facing Jacob Gander-Compton (Bedford Fencing Club) who he beat 15-9 in his semi-final match. Webb’s fairly easy round of 32 and quarterfinal matches were punctuated by a thrilling 15-13 victory over William Halliwell (Shakepeare Swords) in the round of 16. He went on to beat Noah Robertson (Truro Fencing Club) 15-13 to make the gold medal match.
The final saw the two teammates go at each other with a fine display of aggressive but incredibly skillful sabre fencing. Webb took the narrowest of leads into the break at 8-7. They traded the first two hits of the second period before Webb went on a four-hit run to lead 12-8. Amsalem did not let his head go down though and two attacks followed by a distance trap on the back line meant there was just one point in it. Almost sensing a shift in momentum, Webb slightly upped the pace of the fight and a stunning attack, advancing the full length of the piste saw him take a 14-11 lead. Amsalem had one more hit left in him as Webb took the title with a beautiful flunge attack.
Only twenty-two fencers entered this event where only Laura Gladdish (MX Fencing) and Shreya Anil (Camden Fencing Club) emerged from the poules with no defeats. Anil progressed to the quarterfinals but was beaten 15-13 by Emily Ruaux (Rivington Park Fencing Club). Ruaux went on to make the final beating Jessica Corby (West Fife) in her semi-final. Gladdish serenely progressed to the semi-final stage of the event but she was edged out, 15-14, by her teammate and the Cadet silver medalist, Isabel Turnbull.
The final was a match up of two contrasting styles. Turnbull was the much busier of the two fencers and took an early lead but Ruaux was extremely calm whilst assured and took an 8-6 lead into the break. Whilst Ruaux started the second period in much the same fashion as the first, a burst of activity took her into a 14-10 lead. A lovely stop-cut followed by an attack put Turnbull within touching distance but Ruaux was not to be beaten as she evaded her opponent’s attack and struck the final blow to take the title 15-12.
As always, British Fencing would like to thank the tireless efforts of all of the volunteers who made these championships possible. Their efforts do not go unnoticed. We would also like to thank our Premier Partner, Beazley and Official Equipment Supplier, Leon Paul.
You can find the full results of both the Cadet & Junior events here.
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