Medway Park hosts GB Junior National Championships
Fencing continued today at Medway Park with the six weapon GB Cadet and Junior National Championships. It was turn for the Junior events which again took place in both of the venue’s main arenas.
A field of 52 took to the piste in the men’s epee event. Paul Sanchez-Lethem (Brixton Fencing Club) took the title after impressing throughout. Winning all of his first round fights he was seeded first for the knockout stages. He went on to beat Steven (14-9), Worman (15-6) and Nichols (15-14) before facing club mate Tomas Curran Jones in the final. After a patient start from both fencers Sanchez-Lethem picked his opponent off twice, first with a fleche and then with a closing riposte. Just a minute later and his lead was 6-2 hitting both on the attack and in defence. With the clock ticking down at the end of the first period the lead had opened up to 13-5. Sanchez-Lethem was winning the fight by controlling the distance and it was all over in a flash as he took the title 15-5.
He spoke to British Fencing shortly after the medal presentation and said; “I fenced really well today – the best I have all season. It’s been a tough season for me where I’ve felt the pressure. Today I felt lifted. I competed in Sweden recently where a Portuguese fencer totally controlled our fight with his distance. I tried to copy that today. I’ve worked hard all year and this is the first Under-20 event that I have won so it’s very satisfying. I’d like to thank British Fencing for their support in my Strength & Conditioning training over the past two years, my coach for all the time he puts into me and my parents for always taking me around regardless of my results.”
The bronze medals were won by William Grealy (Redhill & Reigate Epee Club) and Harrison Nichols (Redhill & Reigate Epee Club).
The women’s epee field of 44 began the day at the end of which Caitlin Chang (Harrogate Fencing Club) was crowned champion. She began the day by winning all of her poule fights making her the number three seed for the knockout stages. Chang then went on to beat Trenchard (15-5), Jones (15-9) and MacKinnon (15-13) before facing Jessica Grundy (Wellington Swords) in the final. There, Chang was constantly moving in and out of distance whilst Grundy appeared more calm. The work rate Chang was putting in paid off as she went into a 3-1 lead. She built on this and by the first break was 9-5 up despite Grundy slowing the fight down. In the second period, Chang continued to press with the fight taking place almost entirely at Grundy’s end of the piste. She continued to pick her opponent off and took the title with a double, 15-9.
Commenting on her performance, Chang said; “I fenced OK in the poules but as the DE’s began I got better. By the semi-final, which was always going to be a big match (against MacKinnon) I was ready. It was a close fight but I was prepared for that and stuck to my plan. In the final I put on the pressure against my younger opponent and didn’t relent. It’s great to retain the title and I’ve now won it three times. Thanks to my coach and of course my Mum and Dad.”
Georgia Barrington (Bristol University Fencing Club) and Leonora MacKinnon (Malvern Hills Sword Fencing) won the bronze medals.
The men’s foil event saw an entry of 42 with the title going to Kristjan Archer (Newham Swords). He got off to a good start winning all of his first round fights earning him second seed for the knockout stages. There he beat Higgs (15-5), Birch (15-8), Corlett (14-9) and Hendrie (15-7) before facing Rajan Rai (Newham Swords) in the gold medal match. The two traded hits in the early stages but with the fight tied at 3-3 Archer started dictating the pace with a more attacking approach. At the first break Archer was 11-7 up and with both fencers coming from the same club they had a minute to reflect on the fight without consultation from their coach. In the second period Archer looked confident and controlled the fight, eventually winning 15-9.
Talking about his win, Archer said; “I fenced well today by playing to my strengths. It worked for me. I rode a confidence wave throughout the day due to all the hard work I’ve put into my training. I’ve been training with (World number 1) Andrea Cassara and the GB senior squad this week which was good preparation. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support I get at Newham Swords and at Lee Valley. I’d also like to thank my mother for all of her support throughout the years.”
The bronze medals went to George Hendrie (Sussex House Fencing Club) and Glen Ostacchini (Salle Boston).
The women’s foil event started with a field of 30 fencers with Ayesha Fihosy (Salle Boston) taking the title after a tense final. She started well, winning all of her poule fights dropping only 5 hits and was seeded second going into the knockout stages. She then beat Martin (15-2), Fitton (15-7) and King (15-13) before facing Ruth Clarke (Edinburgh Fencing Club) in the final. Both fencers spent the first minute feeling their way into the fight and then traded hits to a score of 7-7. Fihosy started to get the timing on her attacks and was soon 12-7 up. She closed things out from their taking the title 15-7.
Happy with her result Fihosy spoke after the event and said; “I fenced pretty well in particularly toward the end of the day. The semi against Leah was really tough especially as I lost my confidence at the start. I’ve never won this event before so I’m really pleased. I’d really like to thank my coach and my Dad who both supported me throughout the day.”
Stephanie Collister (U/A) and Leah King (Sussex House Fencing Club) won the bronze medals.
A strong field of 47 men’s sabreurs took part in this event with the overall title going to Soji Aiyenuro (Camden Fencing Club). He won all of his first round fights giving him a seeding of three for the knockout stages. There he beat Harris (15-8), Jennings (15-7), and Van Hoffelen (15-7) on his way to the final with Harry Boteler (Truro Fencing Club). It was a fast and furious start to the gold medal match with Aiyenuro leading 8-4 at the break. One of hits was a very unorthodox parry riposte which amused the crowd. Aiyenuro started the second period well with a great parry riposte followed by a long attack. A brilliant counter-riposte took him to a 12-5 lead. A mini-rally from Boteler was not enough and Aiyenuro took the title 15-9.
After his win Aiyenuro said; “I fenced well all day. I just got on with the job I came to do. It’s really good to win back-to-back and nice to win a trophy that my coach has won. It’s good to be British Champion as only one person can say that. Thanks to my coaches, my club and especially Ian (Williams) and JoJo (Hutchison). Everyone is a family at Camden and without their support it’s so much harder to get into the zone even though we all train hard.”
The bronze medals were won by Kirk Slankard (City Fencing Club) and Camille Van Hoffelen (Imperial Fencing Club).
A modest entry of 22 meant that the women’s sabre event was the first to finish, as it did yesterday. The title was won by Laura Gladdish (MX Fencing Club). Despite dropping a couple of fights in the first round she was ranked fourth for the knockout stages. There she beat Hampson (15-2), Maidwell-Smith (15-12) and Sleeman (15-7) on her way to meeting Emily Ruaux (Rivington Park Fencing Club) in the final. The fight started with some good early exchanges and with both fencers using a variety of attack and defence. Gladdish then struck with a combination of an attack followed by a well timed counter and a neat parry riposte to go into the break 8-5 up. The second period started well for Gladdish as she went into an 11-5 lead. Her confidence was clearly high and she took the title with a couple of hits with the line winning 15-9.
Speaking shortly after the final, Gladdish said; “I think I fenced well after taking the bronze medal yesterday. It feels weird to be the Junior Champion but amazingly good. It’s a great warm-up for the Europeans. It’s thanks to the support I get from my coach, my parents and my friends.”
The bronze medals were won by Francesca Rushton (Shakespeares Swords) and Kiera Sleeman (Truro Fencing Club).
Five of the six finals were held in a gala event with special guest Mayor of Gillingham, Vaughan Hewitt, who was kind enough to present the medals with British Fencing’s Board Chairman, David Teasdale.
The event was expertly run on time and a great deal of thanks goes to those organising it. A great deal of thanks also needs to go to the hard working officials, volunteers and our hosts, Medway Park.
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