Once again we were able to field a full team of young cadet fencers from around the south west, and once again they fought hard and represented our region well. The South West Finished joint 5th this year. Mike Cleary and Nat Lewis would like to express our thanks to all the fencers, parents, coaches and clubs who helped us organise teams and get the fencers to the event. We would also like to thank Elaine Dunn for volunteering her weekend to help chaperone the children. Mike would also like to thanks Nat Lewis for overseeing the fencers over the weekend as he was unable to stay around at Millfield for the two days.
Epee once again proved to be our strongest weapon, the men’s team had a great run throughout both days and Won the overall Men’s Epee. The Women, not to be outmatched by the men, nearly achieved the same, coming second overall in the women’s epee. This achievement is fantastic and we hope to keep the momentum going for a third year. A very experienced team in their final year of the competition.
The foilist again put up a good fight but with the strength of foil at this age group they were unable to quite get the top prize. While we fielded a good solid team, once again it was not our “first team”. The Men’s Foil Team struggled with the high standard of the competition but pulled together as a team and fought hard and well and didn’t give up. They improved immeasurably as we weekend went on, but overall was a weaker part of the squad. The women faired better with more experienced fencers with international experience. They put up a good fight scoring high and being in the top 3 of the women’s foil. With foil getting stronger and stronger across the whole region we have high hopes for future teams.
Sabre once again followed the pattern of previous years of fielding a team that was sadly not as strong as our region could have done; men’s sabre was well represented with fencers in their final year of Cadet events, and who had had experience at the highest levels of national events. The ladies, while fencing valiantly over the course of the whole weekend, were an inexperienced team of young fencers, some of who fenced foil as their primary weapon. While this is particularly disappointing given the depth of talent across the region in this weapon, my thanks and admiration go to these ladies who gave their all over the two days of tough competition.
I believe that now is good time to step down as sabre captain, for the next year at least: I am now involved more and more in the British Fencing Talent/DISE coaching program, and am likely to be away at the Commonwealths in the run up to the Winton this year. I think the committee would do well to take a more centralised role in the formation of the Cadet team, and attempt to spread the responsibility for organising the team outside of the Bristol/Bath region. Much as I wish it was the strongest part of our region for sabre, this is not the case, and I feel we must engage the strongest clubs possible in order to reach our full potential.
I will of course remain a vocal supporter of the event, encourage my fencers to take part if they are selected, and nominate those I feel would benefit the team.
More and more commitments are taking up more of my time, especially during the first half of the season, with this in mind I would like to take a secondary role when it comes to this competition, it is a fantastic competition for our young fencers and provides them with great opportunity. During last years competition I was unable to attend for the entire weekend and this year I believe I will be in the same situation. With this in mind I wont be able to stay at the event nor chaperone the children, I ask the committee to look for and appoint someone who can but that commitment in.
I will however help in anyway I can with the selection process, having contacts throughout the region. If the committee would like I can pen an official selection process and a list of useful ranking lists and club contacts to help the process along. I again would also would like to see one or more members of the south west committee present at some point over the cadet Winton weekend, talking to and supporting our fencers. I believe this will help the fencers integrate more with the South West region more and spur them on to know that they are supported by the region.