Fencing at the Welsh Open 2015
This was another ‘first time’ individual fencing event for me at the suggestion of a few friends during the Bristol Open.
Arriving two hours before Foil check-in as a good friend of mine who brought us is fencing in the Epee event, I’m already buzzing and fighting to contain the adrenaline reserves until later.
Re-taping, testing and double testing foils more than dissolves the time. As well as various (probably audible obscenities!) as I battle with completely invisible grub screws!
Finally I check-in and have already mentally begun my warm-up. Clocking almost every piste is metal – brilliant! More scope for contrast, shape and colour, more chance to hear and gauge opponents’ rhythm and speed. The lighting is all artificial so no sudden random variations (although I doubt the sun would’ve put in an appearance through the solid autumn drizzle-dirge!). After a careful ramble, I’d also counted pistes left to right to get the piste numbers and noted plenty of space between each so less opportunity for potential ‘Little Miss Bump’ encounters with wires, spools, bags etc.!
Creature of habit, I have ‘the last’ cigarette (yes, disgusting but arguably traditionally/historically connected to fencing – my excuse!) I get chatting to another lady Foilist who is so relieved to know she’s not ‘the only one’ with the bad habit! She notices the Black Sabbath tattoo on my left arm and the conversation turns to music.
As Fate decided, only half an hour previously I’d been talking music with my friends fencing Epee and artists who also fence. It’s been on the ‘dream-list’ forever to get to fence with Bruce Dickinson, maybe even Mick Fleetwood (if he still fences?!) and well long conversation short, it turns out this lady had the same coach as Bruce Dickinson for a time and went on to tell me with much animation how they’d happened to cross paths again very recently and that he was getting back into fencing where she fences regularly. I think I just pulled stupid faces! Well okay rationale, but cynicism aside for a second it was a truly awesome way to start a competition!
Back inside, dark chocolate, sips of water stretch and plug into the ‘play-list’. As I find an empty piste and start high kicks etc., I still can’t help wondering “should I slip the Dogtanian theme in there too!?” Really just so apt from the childhood perspective! Odd maybe next to Led Zeppelin ‘Ramble On’ and ‘Rock and Roll’ and Fleetwood Mac ‘Don’t Stop’ and ‘Never Going Back Again’!
Half humming some bizarre hybrid of the Dogtanian theme and Fleetwood Mac I find the piste for the poules and after politely explaining the limitations of my refereeing at this level, my first opponent recognises me from the World Service Facebook page! Turning the same colour as my mask at the lovely things she’s saying, she introduces herself as Rhiannon! (Forgive me an ironic giggle inside!).
If not to win, my usual goal of making it tough for them and getting at least a point in every poule bout got a tick expect the last one.
More than ready for the finals after what always seems an unending wait, I’d found that blissful balance of energy, concentration and adrenaline by the time the DE sheets were put up.
I’ve only done it once before, so I was somewhere between a state of elation and total disbelief after I won 15 – 13. I think my friend had minor hysterics when he asked how it went and apparently I dazedly replied “I think I just won that?!”
Managing to get five points in the second DE I was ranked 31st overall out of around 40 fencers who entered. After the following comments from my amazing coach and fellow fencers, there was more than earned reason to celebrate with a bottle of fizz and ‘Don’t Sop’ on repeat! See you next year Wales!