The 2018 Championships saw Dulwich register a record 25 fencers. Despite a couple of injuries, there was a real buzz and excitement about the Championships with many new fencers coming to compete for the first time.
On the first day Toby Stinson led the way in the Foil class. In his last year at the College he showed fantastic determination and spirit to reach the last 64 where unfortunately he bowed out. Will Keniston-Cooper, also in the foil, had a solid Championship but lost to a stronger opponent in the pool. In Epee, Joshua Chan, Tom Patton and James Cook all performed well to get to the last 32, with some moments of brilliance and some tight wins. A special mention to James who showed great courage and heart behind his blade in his matches. Leo Tidmarsh made his way to the top 16 where he had a good lead at 8 - 4 against a strong opponent. His opponent fought back to 13-13 and then took two points to seal victory. Leo will have learnt a great deal during the day and will no doubt come back even stronger next year.
On day two in the Foil, the Tan brothers seemed unstoppable, dominating the pools and the first elimination bout to make it to the last 32. Gerald won his bout 15/0 in a fearsome display of power. Young Garrett then paid the price for conceding too much of an advantage to an opponent who made him nervous and a series of mistakes sealed his loss. Gerald then bowed out of the tournament in the last 16. He will have been disappointed not to have continued his progress but will have learnt valuable lessons along the way. In Epee, Felix Schneidemann started slowly in the pool but soon recovered, responding well to the tactical advice offered. He was clearly up for the challenge and hungry for victory showing some excellent moves and collecting important victories. His run ended in the last 16 where he met probably the only opponent in the room who had a style that was a perfect counter to Felix. He finished an impressive 11th place. Will Holmes performed admirably in his first fencing competition and it was a pleasure to see him score points and learn as the day progressed. I have no doubt he will be back for more next year.
The Sabre competition took place on day three. We had a large number of fencers competing here as this has been our focus for beginners for the past two years. James Lyon, Sunrise Foster and Alejandro Galdez were all outstanding in their first competitions and raised expectations for the future. Sunrise was clearly nervous but managed to pull out a victory and scored some excellent points as his confidence grew. James and Alejandro showed great maturity and understanding of the fight, winning by fencing intelligently. Freddie Lesley will have been disappointed as he seemed to lack the spirit he showed last year, despite having a good technique and the skills to go further. Dexter Lachmann showed good tactical awareness and determination and Xander Tuck overcame his nerves to both perform well in the matches. Simon Sun and Aiken Furlong will both have been disappointed with their lack of preparation which clearly inhibited their progress. Both physical and mental fitness are required to achieve medals at these championships and they weren’t quite there with either. Tom Borrett took the bull by the horns and displayed an outstanding attitude by varying his tactics, conserving energy and overcoming larger and more physical opponents. Tom reached the round of 16 and unfortunately the calls didn’t quite go with him as he made numerous attacks that went unrewarded. Tom heads to the National Finals in Sheffield full of confidence following this performance, and his silver in the London South East Championships.
So overall, a solid championships for all the boys as fencing continues to grow here at Dulwich under the coaching of former Italian International Fencer Marco Paolo Cuomo. We now have more boys fencing regularly and more boys into the top 32 and top 16 than ever before. The challenge for our boys now is to knuckle down and go that one step further by ensuring they are fit, strong and training on a regular basis. The medals will follow. Well done to all involved.