Yarmouth and Waveney fencers compete with the elite

Yarmouth and Waveney fencers took part in the Norfolk Open, the largest fencing competition in the county.What is normally a challenging weekend of fencing, was made even more so by many of the country’s top 20 fencers taking part as well as numerous international fencers who crossed the channel to take part

Great Yarmouth and Waveney Fencing Club had three members present on both days, taking part in Men’s Foil and Epee, they were: Melvin Waters, Simon Blackwell and Robert Johnson.

Saturday saw Men’s Foil being fenced; after the initial round of poules Blackwell was ranked highest out of the three Yarmouth fencers, this drew him against the experienced Chris Jennings (Salle Paul), despite a valiant attempt by Blackwell, Jennings was able to control the match from the start, going on to win it, and knock Blackwell out of the main competition.

Waters was up next, and despite the match starting of close, his opponent slowly started to gain a lead, and by the end of the second round had gained victory over Waters. This just left Johnson to fight the higher seeded Dan Parnham (Norfolk FC); Johnson was able to gain an early lead, despite Parnham fighting back and closing the gap between the two fencers, Johnson was able to maintain his dominance and take the victory, progressing him into the last 32 stages of the competition.

In his next match, Johnson drew Richard Allen (Salle Boston), who he also drew last year, resulting in a 15–1 victory to Allen. This year Allen was able to gain an early lead, however a determined Johnson was able to change his tactics to bring the score up to 10–5 to Allen. Johnson was able to take the offensive gaining 2 hits immediately, before the more experienced Allen was eventually able to figure him out and gain the victory, 15–9.

Blackwell and Waters weren’t finished yet however; they still had the foil plate to contest. Waters started off well; but was narrowly knocked out in his third, to place him 5th, just outside of the medals. Blackwell on the other hand, sailed through his first 3 matches, before being drawn against Daniel Mills (Cambridge). Blackwell started off well, but Mills had an impressive circular attack that successfully evaded his defences, allowing Mills to take the victory and Gold, and leaving Blackwell with Silver.

Sunday saw Men’s Epee being fenced, this again provided challenging days worth of fencing, a challenge with Blackwell and Waters were able to overcome, with their results from the preliminary poule stages gaining them a bye to the next round of the competition. Meanwhile Johnson had to fight his way in, a battle in which he was unsuccessful, with his opponent punishing from a mistake he made early on.

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In the next round Waters put up an impressive fight against the highly ranked Paul Sanchez-Lethem, with Waters keeping the score level during the first period of three minutes, in the second period Waters was able to launch three successful attacks in a row, momentarily gaining the lead before Sanchez-Lethem, now feeling the pressure, picked up his game and took victory, and later went on to take the Bronze medal. Meanwhile Blackwell had a more challenging time against his opponent, whose use of flick hits was able to gain his victory over Blackwell.

Johnson then took part in the plate competition, and took his first two victories with ease, before having to fight his way into the final against Nick Burton, with the result going 15-13 in Johnson’s favour. This placed Johnson in the final against Alex Swan (Active8), Swan took an early lead however Johnson was able to lure him into attacking and use his stronger defence to even the match 12-12 at the end of the first period. Johnson then launched a successful attack, and attempted a second, which failed and Swan was able to even the match 13-13. Both fencers then bought their time, until Johnson, spurred on by a large home support, was able to exploit a weakness in Swan’s defence and take the Gold Medal.

If you’d like to taking up the sport of fencing, you can contact Great Yarmouth and Waveney Fencing Club by emailing rj.gywfc@gmail.com or visit www.gywfc.co.uk for more information.