'More popular than ever' - fencing club's optimism after trio reach national championships
PUBLISHED: 13:01 31 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:23 31 January 2019
A fencing club says the sport is becoming increasingly popular - despite financial uncertainty and doubts over British representation at the 2020 Olympics.
The optimistic outlook from Great Yarmouth and Waveney Fencing Club comes after three members qualified for the British Fencing Youth Championships, to be held at the English Institute of Sports in Sheffield.
Isabele Narburgh, Evangeline Lawrence and Yasmin Narli saw off the competition at a qualifying event in Stevenage last weekend, and are now set to represent the Eastern Region at the championships in May.
Isabele qualified in the u12 sabre category, while Yasmin will compete in the u18 foil contest. Evangeline has qualified for the second consecutive year and will take part in the u14 foil event.
Peter Hadden, welfare officer at Great Yarmouth and Waveney Fencing, said the achievements signified an exciting time for the club.
“It’s great news and we’re all really pleased,” said Mr Hadden. “Last year we had one member qualify, so for three to reach the championships this year is a great success.
“Under Robert Johnson’s coaching we have always managed to bring people through the ranks and help them achieve success - but even more so these days.”
With UK Sport cutting fencing’s funding in 2016, the sport is facing uncertain times and may not have Team GB representation at Tokyo 2020.
British Fencing’s chief executive said last year that the future of the sport in the UK has never been “so bleak”.
But Mr Hadden believes that, despite fencing’s precarious financial situation, interest in the sport does not appear to be on the wain.
“From what we see it is becoming more popular then ever before,” he added. “The big positive with fencing is that, with it being indoors, you can do it any time of the year.
“Some of our members are as young as 10 and others have kept involved with the sport until a ripe old age. We sometimes go on trips to the club in Norwich and there are people in their 80s taking part.
“Fencing is such a community-driven sport where not only the fencers get involved, but also their families as well.”
Club members would like to thank coach Robert Johnson for his continued support.
• Great Yarmouth and Waveney Fencing Club meets at 7.30pm every Thursday at Ormiston Denes Academy, Lowestoft.