An early start on the Friday morning, but everyone on time and had their passports! The coach journey was reasonably uneventful and the weather for travelling was perfect, not too hot but the sun was shining. Arrived at the ferry port and the whole team sat on the top deck enjoying the sea breeze and the sunshine.
Arrival at Maynooth University and straight into dinner, collecting keys and getting settled in. Only 6 people managed to lock themselves out of their rooms in the first hour!! The key system was a challenge for the weekend and some people had to visit the main reception area on at least three occasions to get a new key card! (no names, but you know who you are!)
The team ethos across all weapons was really great - and the support for each other’s weapon was also a real positive. I was really impressed that all fencers made sure that no one was left out or left on their own.
The journey back was a bit more eventful – a misplaced wallet and a passport put into the hold – but all resolved very quickly. Then the mammoth journey back – where most people slept and some snored loudly!!
I would like to thank all the fencers and coaches for an amazing weekend of fencing, friendship and some great results (see the coach reports below). Here’s to the next Welsh team event!
Tania (Team manager)
Full reports for all events can be found below:
Men Epee Individual.
In the poules Edward Don unfortunately had Dylan Ballard in his poule with 1 victory for Ed and 3 for Dylan. Rhys Jackson had a tough poule ending with no victories but points scored in every match. Morgan Fouracre-Evans ended with 1 victory.
Into the direct elimination (DE), where Ed had a close win over Louis Taiwo-Williams followed by losing a very tight fight (15-14) against the eventual silver medallist James Jeal. Dylan gave a dominant display in his first DE comfortably making it into the last 8 where unfortunately his day ended. Both Rhys and Morgan had strong first DEs but proceeded no further.
Men Epee Team.
The older fencers were very supportive of the younger fencers in the team and overall the team support was excellent. In the team event, the men won one match which was enough to get them the bronze medal.
Women Epee Individual.
In the poules Dana Fielding won 2 matches unfortunately losing 2 others 5/4, Lulu Willett won 3 matches, Louise Sadler won 4 matches and Abigail Watkins won 5 matches.
All the Welsh women had a bye into the last 16 where Lulu's day ended as did Dana's who unfortunately had drawn Louise. Both Abi and Louise moved into the last 8 where they both had to come from behind to win 15/14 very tight and intense matches.
In the semi finals both won again but never behind through the matches. The day ended with Abi taking gold and Louise taking silver. A great result for Wales.
Women Epee Team
In the teams, Wales showed a dominant display beating the gold and bronze medallists in the poule, only dropping one very close match against Ireland. Therefore on indicators Wales ended the day with the silver medal.
John Rees (Epee Coach)
Women Foil Individual
Saturday kicked off with the women's foil, and the girls were on form and raring to go. Rhiannon Craig and Olivia Barbieri started strong, both only dropping one fight in their poules to secure strong seedings of 6th and 7th. Sadly, Phoebe Dawe and Amelie Russell drew each other in a tough poule containing last year's gold, silver and bronze medallists. Both fenced their socks off though, with Phoebe securing 3 victories and Amelie only narrowly missing out 5-4 in three of her fights.
On to the DEs and after gaining byes into the 16 Olivia and Amelie were edged out to finish 15th and 9th respectively. After breezing through her L16, Phoebe met England's Teagan Williams in the L8, despite putting up a good fight, she was defeated by Teagan who was the eventual winner of the WF. Rhiannon had us on the edge of our seats with a tense but impressive 14-15 win against Scotland's Hannah Fielding, moving her against last year's Gold medallist, Ireland's Emilia Velma who had defeated Amelie to make the L8.
Rhiannon put up a spectacular fight, but was narrowly beaten 15-14 to finish 6th.
Men Foil Individual
The boys were already going by this point, with 2 victories a piece for Macsen Gravelle, Oliver Howarth and James Kloss and 1 for Ethan Steer, in what was a very tough field (a special mention to Macsen who managed to defeat Scotland's Jamie Cook 5-4).
In the DEs Macsen and Ethan narrowly missed out on progressing against opponents from Ireland and Scotland. After breezing through their L32s, Oliver and James met the challenge of England's Luca Plastow and Northern Ireland's Daniel Sigurdsson in the L16. Both put up a spirited performance, but were brought up short, finishing 13th and 15th respectively. Although no individual medals, the whole team did themselves proud, fencing with passion, sportsmanship and great promise for the future!
Men Foil Team
Team Day, and after Saturday's tough individual event, the foilists were fired up and ready to give 100%. The boys had a tough field with all 4 other nations fielding full and strong teams. Although comfortably held off by England (45-24) and Scotland (45-33), the boys put in a massive performance against Ireland and Northern Ireland. In the final match NIR were only saved by the monumental efforts of Saturday's MF champion, Daniel Sugurdsson, to just edge Wales out 45-41. Ireland was even more closely contested with the final match between Oliver and Claudio Sosa Smatrala coming down to 44 all, before Oli's final counter just missed the mark. So, 5th place for the boys, but gold medals for grit and determination.
Women Foil Team
The girls also hit the ground running, with comfortable victories over Ireland and Northern Ireland to set the tone. In a great demonstration of sportsmanship, the girls had also agreed to help Scotland, who were a fencer short, by sacrificing their substitute to fence for them. This did make the WAL-SCOT match a little complicated, but thankfully one of the Irish girls agreed to step in. Wales went on to defeat the Scots 45-33 in a confident performance. Sadly, the English team proved too consistently strong for the girls, who despite some heroic performances, lost 45-21. So Silver medals for the girls, who showed fantastic focus, drive and team spirit throughout the day!
On a personal note can I add what a pleasure it was to work with both teams over the weekend, to thank them for their awesome level of effort, and commend them for how well they worked together and supported each other.
Peter Russell (Foil Coach)
Men Sabre Individual
In the men’s sabre individual we saw some promising performances from a mostly inexperienced group. Dylan Galazka gave us our strongest performance going 3V 2D in his poules, and taking out Scotland’s Rory Morrison to finish in the L8 where he lost to eventual bronze medallist Olympios Gougouias 15-8. A strong performance for his Welsh debut. Sam Westwell, Seb Evan-Reeves and Owen Swainson all finished in the L16 in a strong field of tough opponents.
Women Sabre Individual
In the women’s event Wales had a hugely experienced group of warriors who all put in a strong show in the poule stages to be ranked 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 7th after the poules. All reached the L8 where Amy Westwell knocked out team mate Steph Phennah 15-7 and Erin Corcoran took out Scotland’s Cat Thomson 15-11 to make two Welsh girls in the L4.
Alex Clement was knocked out 15-8 by England’s Bethany Brierley. There was only to be one Welsh girl in the final as Erin and Amy met in the L4, with Amy coming out on top this time 15-8. She then met Bethany in the final and went on to win 15-14 after being 13-7 down with sheer determination and skill. It was an incredibly exciting match, a real showcase of young talent with Beth and Amy being two of the youngest there.
Both teams strongest showings were against their Scottish opponents on day two with narrow losses from both teams. The boys were faced with a strong team containing 2 Commonwealth fencers, and kept them within reach the whole match, eventually losing 45-41. The girls faced Scotland in their first match, and it was Commonwealths all over again as both teams were the previous year’s Commonwealth fencers. Another very close match saw us narrowly miss the gold with a 45-43 loss, but a fantastic effort from all involved.
As the coach I want to say again what a pleasure it was to work with these athletes, and how proud I am of their effort, their determination and how they conducted themselves and supported each other.
Men’s Sabre: Dylan Galazka 6th, Sam Westwell 9th, Sebastian Evan’s Reeves 10th, Owen Swainson 11th
Women’s Sabre: Amy Westwell 1st, Erin Corcoran 3rd, Alex Clement 5th, Stephanie Phennah 7th.
Men’s team: bronze
Women’s team: silver
Fran Russell (Sabre Coach)