Just before the end of last term, two of our top fencers and their parents flew out to south Poland to compete internationally with other children coming from as far as the United States, India, Israel as well as a host of European countries. Below, Ben and Lottie have written about their experiences.
Ben: During the Easter holidays Lottie and I competed for the second time at Challenge Wratislavia, the largest fencing tournament in Europe for children. It took place in Wroclaw, Poland, and went on for five days, with more than 2000 fencers from all around the world participating. There were many categories, on different days, and I fenced in the Under 13 Boys Foil held on the Saturday. This was the first time I have fenced in this higher age category.
Lottie: I travelled out slightly earlier than Ben as I fenced in Under 11 Girls Epee (Thursday) and Foil (Sunday). At first I couldn’t believe the size of the arena, how many fencers were there and how far they had come from.
Ben: When my competition started, I had to fence 5 people in the poule round, and, if I didn’t score enough wins in that round, I knew that I might get eliminated straight away. It’s a long way to travel if your day is finished in a few hours! My first match was hard because it was the very first match of the day. I lost that 3:1, but then went on to win the next four (3:2, 4:1, 3:2 and 3:0), and was pleased to have enough points to get through to the next round.
In fact, my four wins meant that I was seeded in the top quarter, which gave me a bye through the first round. In the second round, I fenced a Latvian fencer who I beat 12:3. I then met the No 1 seed (out of 263 entries) from Romania in the next round. I took my time and used my footwork to stay out of trouble. Sadly, I lost this match 6:3, but was happy with that result and really proud to finish 51st, and ended up being the second best English fencer in my year group. It was a good experience to fence people from other countries who fence in different ways and I will definitely return next year to do even better. Hopefully as a member of the England team.
Lottie: When the Girls Epee competition started, I had to fence 5 people in the poule round (a Bulgarian and four Poles). I won 2 matches and scored points in all of them. This meant I had enough points to get through to the next round as the bottom third of the entry list are eliminated – elite fencing can be a very tough place sometimes! I was then drawn against a Turkish girl from the Istanbul Fencing Academy. Even though she was ranked 40 places higher than me, I held my nerve, practised what I have been doing with Neil and emerged the winner 8-4. I was thrilled with this result and then faced the 19th seed, who was a Pole. I kept her moving and scored some nice hits before losing 8-3. With my victories and points scored I finished 63rd, the third highest English fencer in the category out of 126 entries. Only three British girls made the last 64 and Neil teaches us all!
As all the U11 girls stayed in the same hotel, we left together and had a nice evening, though I was rather tired. We then had two days of sight-seeing with my friends Hattie and Emily (from another local school). We visited the old town of Wroclaw and the very large Zoo. It was great fun!
On the Sunday we went back to the venue for the Girls’ U11 Foil event which was even bigger with 158 entries. Again I faced very tough competition particularly from a girl from Singapore who won Bronze and another who came 8th. It was a pool of death! However, I scored hits and won one bout. Sadly on this occasion, it meant my day was over but I supported Emily and Hattie in their rounds. I ended up 133rd.
I loved my fencing trip to Wroclaw Poland and I want to thank Neil for being a fantastic coach. The experience of competing internationally has really boosted my confidence and I can’t wait to get out there again.