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Fencing gaining foothold in Singapore

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More than 200 fencers from various schools and clubs squared off at the Singapore Cadet Fencing Championships 2014. (Photo by VoxSports)

The Singapore Cadet Fencing Championships 2014 drew to a close on 23 February (Sunday), as the two-day event at the Jurong East Sports and Cultural Centre saw approximately 200 students from different schools and clubs pitting their skills against each other.

The fencers ranged from ages 14 to 17 years and on display were the three different weapon groups, namely Sabre, Foil and Epee.

Over the years, participation numbers has increased although there has been a drop in male participants.

“It should increase in numbers. We had about 150 to 170 (participants) in 2013 but we have about 200 this year,” said Phua Hui Fen, Operations and Marketing Executive of Fencing Singapore.

While some of these participants played at both club and school levels, competition rules stated that they can only represent one of the two at the tournament.

“They can choose to represent either the school or the club, but not both. There are definitely fencers who are in the school who belongs to club but want to represent their club (instead),” Phua shared.

“There are (also) a few (national athletes) because this is one of the competitions which can help them with their national rankings.”

For Jesslyn Chen, 17, this was her final chance at glory as she would be over-aged when the 2015 edition comes around again.

Sharing her insights on the competition, the Blade Club student, said: “I feel that the competition is very big with a lot of people participating (in it). “It is a huge opportunity for new fencers to gain experience (through this competition as well).” 

Singapore Sports School coach Giorgio Guerrini echoed Chen’s sentiments: “Well, this is my first event since I came only a month ago and it’s the first time I’m assisting a national championship here in Singapore. 

“I think it’s well-organised because they can hold many competitions at the same time and the facility is good, I don’t see any problems,” he added. 

Fellow Sports School coach Ralf Bissdorf believes that even though the overall quality of fencing in Singapore still leaves much to be desired, it can only get better with time. 

“We (Sports School), the SSC (Singapore Sports Council) and the national federation are putting in a lot of effort to improve the level of fencing (in Singapore). We have new national coaches in the federation and we are trying to bring in high level coaches into sports school. We are also trying to develop local coaches and this will take time. If you are talking about international level, it will take us time, five to ten years or even more,” the 2000 Olympic Games Silver Medalist remarked.

While a handful of government schools offer fencing as a co-curricular activity, beginners or interested parties who are keen to pick up the sport can also take up lessons at clubs like Z Fencing at United Square, Blade Club and Fencing Masters. 

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