The 2015 GB Junior Championships took place on 15th February at the University of East London’s Sports Dock arena with 315 fencers battling it out across the six weapons.
A field of fifty-eight fencers took part in this event as three of the top four seeds after the poules were knocked out before the medal matches. The number one seed, Aml Sinclair (Brixton) fell 10-8 to the number eight seed, Thomas Dickson (Team Newcastle) in their quarterfinal. The Cadet Champion and number two seed, Roo Whelan (Millfield) also went out in his quarterfinal – 9-8 to Daniel McGlade (Brixton). Number four seed, Anthony Avis (Redhill & Reigate) was beaten 15-7 by the Cadet silver medalist, George Morris (Stockport) in the round of 16. Oliver Steed (Skipton) then narrowly beat Morris 14-12 to make the semi-finals and Harrison Nichols (Redhill & Reigate), the number three seed progressed with ease to complete the semi-final line-up. Two contrasting semi-finals followed as Steed dominated Dickson to go on and fight for the title with a 15-1 victory. The other semi-final could not have been closer as Nichols just edged McGlade 15-14.
As expected, Nichols started the gold medal match looking for hits with an offensive approach whilst Steed tried to find “the moment” in defence. The pair were evenly matched until the final minute of the opening period when Steed opened up an 8-6 lead going into the first break. Nichols continued to attack in the second period with Steed content on maintaining his tactic of picking off his opponent when he got too close, with explosive attacks. At the second break there was still little between them as Steed led 13-12. The Skipton fencer continued the waiting game that he’d used throughout the fight and one attack into preparation followed by a parry riposte saw Steed become the 2015 champion with a 15-12 victory.
Fifty-two fencers took part in the first round of this event and like the men’s competition three of the top four seeded fencers did not compete for the medals. The top seed after the poules, Kerenza Bryson (Plymouth) progressed with ease to the semi-final stage but the number two seed, Victoria Hide (Team Newcastle) was undone by Hannah Nesbitt (Unattached) who beat her 15-12 in their quarterfinal. It was a similar story for the two fencers ranked third equal after the first round. Medora McCarthy (Cardinal) went out to the Cadet champion, Laura Sheffield (Brixton) in the round of 16. Sheffield then lost 15-7 to Jessica Gundry (Truro). Lydia Stanier (Fechtclub Furth), also ranked third after the first round was beaten 15-12 by Bethan Plant in their quarterfinal. Two close semi-finals followed with Gundry beating Nesbitt 15-12 and Bryson beating Plant 14-9.
In the final Gundry was happy to retreat, drawing Bryson on to her and then picking her off with attacks and counter-attacks. That tactic worked for her and the Truro fencer led 6-4 at the first break. Bryson employed a clever change of tactics in second period, pushing her opponent but not finishing her attack. That lured Gundry into attacking and allowed the Plymouth fencer to pick her off to take a 7-6 lead. Having established that lead Bryson then backed off and Gundry duly went after her. The two traded hits with Bryson leading 10-9 at the final break. Gundry was forced to come out on the attack in the last period but showed great experience by not rushing in. A well-worked attack saw her draw level only for Bryson to reestablish the lead with a hit in close quarters. In a thrilling finale, Gundry landed two superb attacks to go 13-12 up which meant that Bryson was forced to attack herself. This played into Gundry’s preferred game plan as she went on to take the national title 15-14.
As with the cadet category, Men’s Foil boasted the largest field of all of the junior events with seventy-eighty fencers taking part. The top four seeds after the first round all progressed to the semi-final stage. Alexander Lloyd, who emerged from the poules as the top seed and Sebastian Pallier (Activ8), the fourth seed, made light work of guaranteeing themselves medals. A tricky 15-13 victory over Felix Fardell (CADS) in the round of 32 followed by an equally tough 15-12 win over teammate Jai Birch were features of Rajan Rai’s progress to the medal matches. The number three seed and cadet champion, Dominic De Almeida (Fighting Fit) also had tough matches against Daniel Kiss (Salle Kiss), 15-12 and Stephen Brown (Queens), 15-13 on his way to the semi-finals. Rai went on to beat De Almeida 15-10 and Lloyd defeated Pallier 15-8 to confirm their places in the gold medal match.
The final between Lloyd and Rai began at a furious pace and it was Rai who had the better of it in the initial stages. He pulled out a commanding 7-2 lead but then Lloyd came back at the Newham fencer with some superbly timed attacks and parry ripostes. At the first break it was still all to play for but Rai led 12-10. The fight remained tight in the second period and a gritty display from Lloyd saw him close to within one hit at 12-11. Rai then appeared to taste victory and stormed to a 15-12 win finishing with a beautifully timed attack.
Forty-four fencers took part in the women’s foil event and the top four seeds after the poules eased their way through to the quarterfinals. There, the number one seed and two-times winner of this event, Ayesha Fihosy (Salle Boston) beat Yvonne Chart (Truro) 15-5. Seed three, Chloe Dickson (Edinburgh) also progressed with ease, 15-5 against Amy Home and the fourth seed, Katie Smith (Edinburgh) also went through but with a slightly tougher 15-13 victory over Jade Clarke (Exeter City). However, the number two seed, Kate Beardmore (Fighting Fit) was beaten 15-6 by her teammate and the cadet silver medalist, Yasmin Campbell. The semi-finals saw Fihosy beat Smith 15-10 and Dickson beat Campbell 15-9.
It was a cagey start to the final as Dickson and Fihosy searched for the opportunity to hit each other without taking any unnecessary risks. The score was tied at four-a-piece at the first break with no clear indication of either fencer picking up the momentum. At the start of the second period Fihosy immediately showed her attacking intent whilst Dickson stuck to a more measured approach. The fight began to take place at Dickson’s end of the piste as Fihosy applied the pressure. However, Dickson came back at the Salle Boston fencer and took an 8-7 lead with a closing counter attack going into the final period. Dickson came out the more aggressive at the start of the final period but again the fencers traded hits for the first two minutes. Two tiny errors of judgment by the Edinburgh fencer were capitalised on by Fihosy as she opened up a lead with less than a minute remaining. Her confidence grew and she started to adjust the distance more effectively. Fihosy applied the finishing touch to her third successive national title with a marvelous attack, taking the victory 15-11.
A field of fifty-three fencers took part in this event and again it was a case of the top seeds after the poules falling by the wayside before the medal matches. Caspian Watt (Shakespeare Swords) went out 15-8 to Ruben Amsalem (Camden) in the round of 16 with Amsalem going on to make the semi-finals. Seeds one and three fell at the quarterfinal stage, Raphael Van Hoffelen (Camden) was beaten 15-12 by teammate Jonathan “JJ” Webb and Jamie Craze, the cadet champion, fell to his Truro teammate Nicholas Howes 15-14. Meanwhile, the number two seed, William Deary (Truro) quietly fought his way through the field and faced Howes in the semi-finals. He went through to the gold medal match with room to spare, 15-8. The other semi-final, an all-Camden affair, saw Webb beat Amsalem 15-11.
A tremendous start to the final fight saw Deary storm away from Webb to take an 8-1 lead into the break – the Truro fencer not only showing determination but also great variety and distance control. A complete turnaround in the second period saw Webb using a lot more of the piste to fashion his hits and outscored Deary 7-2 in the early stages. Suddenly Deary sprung to life, becoming more decisive taking the score to 14-10 in his favour. With the finishing line in his sights, Deary stuttered once again and Webb closed to within two hits before a fabulous attack from Deary took him to the national title 15-12.
A small field of thirty took part in this event with three of the top four seeds after the first round progressing to the quarterfinals – Maria Chart (Truro), Isabel Turnbull (MX Fencing) and Caitlin Maxwell (Truro). The number three seed, Laura Gladdish (MX Fencing) went out in the round of 16, 15-11 to Lizzie Moffat (Shakespeare Swords). Moffat was then beaten 15-6 by Kate Daykin (Salle Ossian). Two exciting matches followed at the semi-final stage, both ending 15-11, with Chart beating Maxwell and Daykin overcoming Turnbull.
Chart started the gold medal match in determined form going 4-0 up before Daykin could land her first hit. That form continued and Chart took an 8-3 lead into the break. The Truro fencer continued to dominate the fight in the second period, controlling every aspect of the fight and went on to win 15-5.
Congratulations goes to all of the medalists at these Championships and 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.
A special mention must also go to Truro Fencing Club who we believe have made history at this event by holding all of the national sabre titles for both men and women at cadet, junior and senior level.
You can find the full results of both the Cadet & Junior events here.
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