24th April 2017
Allen, Beardmore, Honeybone, Kruse, Lawrence & Maxwell Crowned Champions
The Logitech British Fencing Championships 2017 took place at the weekend in SportsDock at the University of East London. The event was split over two days and hailed a great success.
22 April – Day 1
A total of sixty-two fencers took part in this event. Hannah Lawrence (Wingerworth), Daniele Lawson (Malvern Hills), Rachel Barnes (Much Wenlock) and Amy Radford (Malvern Hills) progressed through the poule stages as the top four seeds. Radford fell to Hannah Nesbitt (Leon Paul) 15-13 in the round of 16 and Nesbitt went on to make the semi-final where she met Lawrence – a repeat of last year’s gold medal match. Lawrence edged a tight match 15-13 to make the final. In the bottom half of the draw, Lawson was knocked out in the quarterfinals 15-8 by Lydia Stanier (Mangiaroti) who in turn went on to beat the third seed, Barnes, by the same score in the semi-finals.
During the first period of the final, Lawrence was more creative and took a 5-1 lead into the first break. Stanier came out for the second period with more purpose and pressed Lawrence into her end of the piste. Despite scoring a couple of unanswered hits at the beginning of the period Stanier was only able to close the gap by one hit (10-6) by the end of the second period. That lead proved crucial as time ticked away in the final period. Stanier was forced into pressing harder and Lawrence produced a professional and patient display to win her third consecutive national title 15-9. Nesbitt and Barnes shared the bronze medal position.
Forty-nine fencers took part in this event and Joshua Maxwell (Truro), William Deary (Truro), Curtis Miller (Camden) and Ethan Ren (Leon Paul) emerged from the first round as the top four seeds for the elimination stages. All but Miller made the quarterfinal stage. Miller’s club mate Jonathan Webb knocked him out 15-11 in the round of 16. Unfortunately for the London club Webb was then knocked out by another Camden fencer, Soji Aiyenuro in the next round (15-12). In fact only one of the top four seeds (after the poules) made the semi-finals as James Honeybone (Truro) took out Ethan Ren 15-8 in the quarterfinals and Maxwell was knocked out 15-8 by club mate Jamie Craze. William Deary made light work of getting to the top four where he beat Aiyenuro 15-10 and Honeybone eased past Craze 15-11.
So, with two Truro fencers into the gold medal match, everyone was expecting a tight affair. It was not to be. Honeybone dominated the tactical play early on to lead 6-0. Deary got a couple of hits back before Honeybone closed out the first period with an 8-2 lead. With no coach present, the fencers spent the minute break contemplating alone. It appeared to work better for Deary who came out for the second period with a more composed approach to his attack and scored three unanswered hits to close the gap to 8-5. A more even contest followed but point by point Deary continued to close the gap to 11-9 down. At that stage most of the fight had taken place in the middle of the piste but seemingly simultaneously both fencers elected to use more of the piste. The fight opened up in the favour of Honeybone and he went on to win 15-12. Aiyenuro and Craze settled for the bronze medals.
There were eighty-nine entries in the men’s foil event and the top four seeds after the poules stages were Richard Kruse (ZFW), Marcus Mepstead (Salle Paul), Ben Peggs (Fencers Club London) and James-Andrew Davis (ZFW). In the top half of the draw Kruse and Davis eased into the semi-finals where they met each other. Kruse prevailed 15-8. The bottom half of the draw did not go to seeding. Keith Cook (Salle Holyrood) took out Peggs 15-8 in the quarterfinals and Matthew Billing edged a thrilling top eight encounter with Mepstead 15-14. Billing went on to beat Cook by the same score in the semi-finals to line up a gold medal match with Kruse.
Clearly conscious of the threat of an in-form Billing, Kruse wasted no time in stamping his authority on the match. He led 5-1 in no time at all. However Billing worked out that he couldn’t allow Kruse time to think and began to pressure the ZFW fencer off the mark. It worked and Billing got himself to within three hits of Kruse at 8-5 down. Kruse adapted and started to be slightly more measured on his attack and allowed the distance to open up a fraction. Billing wasn’t to score again as Kruse secured another national title 15-5 inside the first three minutes.
Watch all the gold medal matches from the first day of the Championships here.
23 April – Day 2
The entry for this event was thirty-four and after the poules stages the top four seeds for the elimination rounds were Ayesha Fihosy (Boston), Chloe Dickson (Edinburgh), Kate Beardmore (Fighting Fit) and Chiara McDermott (Crawley Sword). In the top half of the draw, Fihosy made light work of getting to the semi-finals. McDermott fell 15-7 in the round of 16 to Katrina Feklistova (Newham Swords) who then lost 15-8 to Katie Smith (Edinburgh). Fihosy managed Smith in the first semi-final, going on to win 15-8. It was a similar story in the bottom half of the draw with one of the top seeds, Beardmore, progressing to the medal matches. Meanwhile Dickson lost 14-13 to Heloise Hardie (Fighting Fit) in the quarterfinals. Hardie went on to make the semi-final by beating Sudderick (Edinburgh) 15-11 before losing 15-10 to Beardmore.
Beardmore got the tactics spot on at the start of the gold medal match with Fihosy. The Fighting Fit fencer drew fast attacks from the Boston fencer and used a combination of parries and distance to negate them. She led 12-3 with little over a minute of the match contested. Tellingly Fihosy had given away two hits for covering which would have played on her mind. That said, she stage a remarkable comeback by slowing down her attack and got within four hits at 14-10. Then, when the two got into close quarters, Fihosy was called again for covering and Beardmore took the title 15-10 on an infringement. However Beardmore won the tactical battle on the piste and was a deserving winner.
There were eighty-eight entries into the men’s epee field and Etienne De Burgh (Haverstock), Jamie Firth (Aberdeen City), Christopher Towl (Brixton) and Greg Allen (Haverstock) emerged from the poule stage as the top four seeds. In the top half of the draw De Burgh fell 15-8 to Luke Jones (Redhill Reigate) in the round of 32. Jones then beat Aurelien Degorce (Leon Paul) 15-14 to make the quarterfinals where he lost 15-4 to Christopher Hay (Exeter City). Hay faced Allen in the top semi-final who had progressed fairly comfortably. Allen continued his fine form to win 15-7 and make the gold medal match. In the bottom half of the draw, Marc Burkhalter (Unattached) took out Firth 15-10 in the quarterfinals before beating Matt Henderson (Leon Paul) by the same score to make the semis. Towl lost 15-8 to Benjamin Schneider (Oxford University) in the round of 32. Schneider went on to beat Owen Edwards (Wrexham) 15-12 but then lost 15-9 to William East (KRFC) in the quarterfinals. A highly tactical battle followed in the bottom semi-final which Burkhalter edged 13-9 over East.
An exceptionally high quality final followed between Allen and Burkhalter with both fencers intent on working at a very close distance. Unsurprisingly all but one of the hits scored in the first period was on or near the wrist but Burkhalter took a slender 5-3 into the break. In the second period Allen elected to operate from a wider distance. He gave a way a couple of hits as he began to employ the new distance but drew level at 9-9 by the second break. When they came out for the final period Burkhalter adopted a more attacking approach but Allen was super sharp and picked off his opponent almost at will. Allen maintained a high level of intensity throughout the closing stages and took the title 15-10.
The final event of the Championships saw the smallest field of all with just twenty-eight fencers contesting the women’s sabre event. Emily Ruaux (Rivington Park), Sarah-Jane Hampson (Salle Ossian), Maria Chart (Truro) and Caitlin Maxwell (Truro) emerged from the poules as the top seeds and all four made it to the semi-finals. Maxwell beat Ruaux 15-10 in the first semi-final and Chart made it an all-Truro gold medal match – as in the men’s event – by beating Hampson 15-9 in the other semi-final.
With both finalists from the same club there was a subdued element to this gold medal match. Maxwell, more willing to drop back into her half of the piste, calmly took an 8-4 lead into the break. When they came out for the second period, Chart started to assert her game plan more effectively but Maxwell maintained the lead and took her second consecutive national title 15-10.
You watch all the gold medal matches from the second day of the Championships here.