On the weekend of 5th/6th July, Wales joined teams from 8 other British regions to contest the Senior Winton Cup. This is always a competitive but fun event, and the whole team very much entered into the spirit of this, fighting hard but demonstrating good sportsmanship and supporting the rest of the team.
After a huge amount of work from Peter Stewart (in the form of several thousand emails), we managed to put together a full team across all 6 weapons, with reserves in most weapons as well.
Wales finished 4th overall, with very little separating us from 2nd place. South East emerged as comfortable winners (under the captaincy of former Welsh international, Phil Shepherd-Foster).
The surprise stars of our team were the Women's Épée team of Stella Lancey, Beatrice Fannon, Jenny Yate and Sue O'Connell who finished with 7 victories out of 8 matches, including a win over South-East. Women's Sabre (Harriet Dixon, Jennie Tillott, Katherine Kempe and Fran Whalley) finished just behind them with 6 wins, again beating the South-East team. Men's Épée (David Gregory, James Taylor, Nick Lee and George Hawksworth) had some pretty strong teams to contend with, and came out with a creditable 5 victories and 3 very narrow defeats. Our other three teams all finished on 4 victories, which was very respectable given the standard of the opposition. They were:
- Men's Foil - Glenn Ostacchini, Chris Wild, Ethan Ridsdale and James Wood-Fisher
- Women's Foil - Abi Difford, Heulwyn Hill and Molly Baker
- Men's Sabre - James Potter, Stuart Dixon, Nathan Potter and Joe Nickel
It was great to see all team members pulling their weight, and particularly to see the younger team members stepping up successfully to Senior level. I am very grateful to Peter for all his hard work putting the team together, and to Mark Ridsdale for sharing the Captain's duties with me on the weekend.
I was very shocked to hear that Nathan Potter was admitted to hospital with a collapsed lung a couple of days after the event - possibly triggered by being struck in the chest by a guard on Saturday. I am glad that he is now back at home and feeling almost back to normal, and am sure the whole team would want to wish him all the best for a speedy recovery and swift return to the piste.
As per WF selection policy we are keen to ensure that the Winton Cup is used as a development opportunity, particularly for those who live and train in Wales, and future team selections will reflect this. Peter had a very hard time putting together a full team this year, with some fencers simply not replying to emails or pulling out at the last minute - can I urge all fencers to reply promptly to future selection emails and to ensure that they only accept invitations if they are sure they are available for the event. Next year's Senior Winton Cup has already been provisionally booked for the first weekend of July 2015 at the same venue in Nottingham - please put this in your diaries!