GBR Junior (U20) Men’s Epeeist ran a triumphant streak from poules to semis in the Junior Men’s Epee event in Dubai.
A strong debut in the prelims saw Jeal concede just six hits – with a V6D0 tally – to merit a number one seeding for the direct elimination. A bye through the tableau of 256 and it was to the piste for the 128 where Jeal beat Akal (TUR) 15-7. In the round of 64, Jovanovic (SRB) succumbed to the GBR Epeeist 15-10, followed by Kim (KOR) in the 32 who lost to Jeal 15-13.
Jeal came out of the call room for his tableau of 16 match, encountering World number 6, Brochard (SUI) who he had drawn earlier this season at the Junior World Cup in Winterthur. The Swiss fencer had prevailed on home turf and, on that occasion, it had been Jeal who conceded defeat 15-8. No repeat here, however, as Jeal turned the tide, pulling off a 15-12 victory to make the quarter-final stage.
There, the surprise package of the day’s competition awaited the British fencer in the form of twenty-year-old Sathasivan Nirmala (IND) who despite his World #205 ranking had come through the poules ranked 8th and had been on the front foot for much of the day. Undaunted, Jeal fought fire with fire and went after the Indian from the start. It seemed to stun him and Jeal won easily 15-6.
The semi-final saw Jeal pitted against World number 2 Yasseen (EGY) who had claimed the Junior World silver in 2021 as well as fifth place in the Cadet event the same year.
It was the first time the two Junior left-handers had met. Jeal began by showing patience only for him to score one attack to the four counterattacks landed by the Egyptian. An injury on Jeal’s ankle queued a five-minute medical timeout with just under a minute-and-a-half of the period remaining.
As the match resumed, Jeal – with his ankle in mind – was noticeably more defensive, and entered the first break 3-5 down.
Jeal continued on the defensive at the start to the second period but, with the potential for passivity looming, had no choice but to attack. The opponents traded hits to 6-8 but two more single-light counters for Yasseen saw the Egyptian go four clear at 10-6. Jeal’s response was a parry riposte and a “trademark” fleche to get the Brit to 8-10 down.
Retreating for the first time in the match to protect his lead, Yasseen landed a counter to go 12-9 up. Remaining defensive for the third period, the Egyptian conceded two hits to Jeal for the British fencer to get to 11-12 down, before Yasseen managed his thirteenth touch with a closing parry riposte. A double took Jeal’s score to 12-14, with an attack into preparation from Yasseen finishing things off 15-12.
Jeal was ebullient about his performance on the piste, saying “It was amazing. I had the hardest guy in my first fight and I beat him 5-1 which gave me so much confidence and I smashed the rest of the poule. I got a nice draw but I was fencing well and I’m very happy to beat Brochard after he beat me quite hard in Winterthur.”
Jeal confirmed that the outstanding moment of his day was beating the Swiss fencer despite suffering injury to his ankle. “I’m now hopefully looking forward to a great day with a great team for the team event, but we may have to sub in David, then for me, it’s onto the Commonwealths.”
Jeal paid tribute to his support network including his parents as well as his coach Tony and his club DEA. This outstanding result follows on from the breakthrough performance in the February Junior World Cup in Winterthur (8th place ) consolidated at the Junior Europeans (Team 2nd Place). The training has been a collaborative effort between training With Anthony Klenczar at his club DEA, training at Nottingham University with John Rees and the Athlete Development Programme Team at the 2022 World Championships.
James is an athlete on BF’s Athlete Development Programme (ADP). You can find out more about the ADP here.
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