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Fencing at Gresham's goes from strength to strength

Published on isbi School News dated Tuesday 26th of March 2013

Fencers from Gresham's took part in the recent Public Schools' Fencing Championship, which attracts entrants from schools throughout the British Isles, including a number who have national representative honours. Many schools, such as Millfield and Shrewsbury, have fencing clubs with forty or more participants and a long tradition of dominating this event. Therefore, it was a brave decision after only two terms of fencing at Gresham's to send participants, bearing in mind the very real possibility of a whitewash.

In reality, nothing could have been further from the truth. On Tuesday 19th Clare Mawson (from Melton Constable in Norfolk), making her first foray into any form of competitive fencing, took part in the tough Senior Girls' Foil Competition. She fought with grit and determination avoiding the first round of elimination to demonstrate a cool head when dealing with opponents with much more experience. She was, unfortunately, knocked out in the first round of the direct elimination section of the event, but not before giving her, highly seeded, opponent a great deal to think about. She should be delighted with her final placing of 28th in a total entry of 39.
The following day saw Olivier Johnson (from Salthouse in Norfolk) and Johnny Willcox (from Heydon in Norfolk) participate in the Mount-Haes foil competition, the youngest age category available. Short of recent training time both wobbled a little in their initial poule fights, but avoided elimination in the first cut. In his second poule Olivier fought cleverly and turned his slight build to an advantage, providing many of his opponents with difficulties. He was only a single victory away from the next stage but could not quite grasp the points he needed, and this led to his elimination. Again, he can be pleased with his final placing 79th in a total entry of 114. Johnny fared less well in his second poule, lacking some fine technique to press home the advantage, although he again should be encouraged by a final placing of 87th of a field of 114.

On the same day Humphrey Ho, the quiet man of the group, tackled the Junior Foil event. The foil is not Humphrey's favoured weapon but he seemed to enjoy making short work of many of his opponents in his first and second poule rounds, easily qualifying for the knock-out section of the competition. He automatically earned a place in the last thirty-two of the event, thanks to his numerous victories earlier and his first opponent seemed to be unable to read Humphrey's attacks, leading to a 15-7 victory. This saw Humphrey through to the last 16, where his next opponent proved to be a tougher nut to crack. Using a more physical style than Humphrey he made greater stamina tell, allowing him to defeat the Greshamian 15-9. Nevertheless, Humphrey's final placing of 15th from a field of 119 is highly creditable.

After a long journey back to Holt from Crystal Palace that evening, and another early morning on Thursday Humphrey was again in fine form for the Junior Sabre, his favoured weapon. Again, victory in most of the poule matches appeared easy and he went through to the knock out stages. An early draw against the sixth seeded fencer saw Mr Hall and Mr Stimpson looking with concern into their tea leaves, but Humphrey upset the odds with a convincing victory, which saw him through to the final 16. His next opponent was skilled, but unfortunately not skilled enough, and Humphrey won through to the final 8. However, his next opponent had fenced at international level and in a nail-biting fight Humphrey was defeated 15-13, which saw him exit. At the time of writing his placing is not certain, but he will be at least eighth in an entry of 75.

Mr Hall would like to thank all fencers involved for their hard work and willingness to travel a long distance, and Mr Stimpson for his excellent coaching thus far this year. The coming terms will, without doubt, see fencing at Gresham's go from strength to strength.
Fencing at Gresham's goes from strength to strength - Photo 1
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