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JANUARY2015THESWORD11REPORTS994notonlydidStVincentMalaysiaandNewZealandallsendencersbutHongKongwonitsrstmedalstakingagoldasilverandabronze.Forthersttimesince97thechampionshipswererecognizedbytheCommonwealthGamesorganizationwhichprovidedmedalsandsentanobserver.Andthevenuewasextraordinary8metresupamountainwithaccessonlybychairlit.ThiswasWhistleraskiresortoutsideVancouverandaswedangledromourchairswecouldseeblackbearsrummagingthroughdustbinsbelow.Fencingconditionswerecrampedthebacklineoronesabrepistewasaredoorleadingtostepsandasnowyhillside.Thesemi-nalsandnalstookplaceattheootothemountaintelevisedonlocalcablethecommentatorsnametoourrejoicingbeingErrolFlynn.CanadaandEnglandcontinuedtheircloserivalrybutonceagaintheCanadianstriumphedbythenarrowestomargins.CouldEnglandghtbackItseemedtheycould.In998IwasoneoveencersromNorthernIrelandtotakeparttenmilesromKualaLumpurinMalaysiaandwewatchedastheEnglishencerscollectedsevengoldsthreesilverandninebronze.SecondwasAustraliathirdScotlandwhosenine-medaltallywastheirbestever.InthewomensoilanAustralianwasgivenablackcardorweaponandreereeabusebutitwaswithdrawnateranapologybeoretheendothedaytheFriendlyGameswerebackonlytheywerentasintheteamsabreWalesoreitedtheirmatchagainstNewZealandbyencinginthewrongordertheinractionmighthavebeenoverlookedbutNewZealandaskedorandgotadisqualication.IntheindividualsabreIcrashedoutinthelast3aterhavingmadethelasteighteachtimeovertheprevious8yearswhileinthelast6aDirectoireTechniquewascalledoverwhetheraencerhadbeentemporarilyunsightedbyalargebutterywingingitswayacrossthepiste.Intherst-everwomenssabreeventtheindividualgoldwaswonbyLouiseBongoBond-Williams.BongoWhoknewAustraliawasthenexthost.InmostcountriesCanadaexceptedagreatlossmadetheirwaytoNewcastlenorthoSydneyandorthersttimethesenioreventcombiningwithaveteranCommonwealths.DespitewinningonlyourgoldstoAustraliassixEnglandemergedwithatotalothirteenmedalstobecometopdogagainwithScotlandthird.Butanewtrendhadbegunoleadingencersnottakingpart.EnglandstopthreeoilistsorexampleBeeversKruseandMontaguewereallmissing.WasitjustamatteroexpenseorhadtheCommonwealthsbeendemotedIn6thechampionshipsmovedtoBelastanotherrstwithmountingnumbersandmorecountries.Canadareturnedtotop-nationstatusandproduceditsbestresulteverwinningeightgoldsthreesilverandtwobronze.NoothercountrywonmorethanonegoldandEnglandwasrelegatedtothirdplaceorthersttimeedgedoutbyScotland.FouryearslateritwasbacktoAustraliaMelbournethistimewhereIhadthehugepleasureobeingintheNorthernIrishteamwhileMaryencedorEngland.Ourperormancesonthepisteweremoreefectivethanouradventuresofit.BravingthewavesoBondiBeachwersthadtotourselvesoutwithrubberwetsuits.WhenMaryemergedromthechangingroomtheamusedassistantexplainedthatshehadhersuitoninsideout--andbacktoront.ThosewhoknowMarywillndithardtobelievethisstory.ButintheencinghallEnglandre-asserteditsdominancewithatallyo6medalsincludingsixgold.AharbingeroutureglorieswasthesilvermedalwonbySingaporeinthemensepee.AndwhataharbingerTheeventsatLargsarereportedonelsewhereinthisissuebutthemedaltablespeaksoritsel.SingaporeatthetopwithourgoldsJamaicainsixthplaceaboveAustraliaandCanadanowhereAcompetitiveteamromIndiaAnditwasntjustthechangingorderandthenewrangeonationsIwatchedonmycomputerandthestagingandthestreamingwerewonderul.ThetwomaincommentatorsNickRougvieandJonSaleldplayedofeachothernicelyandJonwasquitesimplythemostknowledgeableandtacticallyalertatthejobIhaveeverheard.SoaretheCommonwealthChampionshipsasecond-classcompetitionrobbedothebestencersOrademocratizedexpandingsportseventtheinternetbroadcastshavealreadyearned83likesthatencersseniorveteranorarmchaircanlookorwardtoeagerlyeveryouryearsItscertainlyadiferentworldrom97andIthinkabetterone.RichardCohenWinstheBronzeMedalintheMensIndividualSabreatthe97CommonwealthGamesEdinburgh.