Commonwealth Cadet & Junior Championships 2015; Team Report

The Scottish national team came away from the 4th Junior Commonwealth Fencing Championships and the Inaugural Cadet Commonwealth championships placed second in the medals table with 4 gold, 1 silver and 5 bronze medals. Cape Town in South Africa played host to the championships and Scotland sent a representative team of over 40 fencers to the event.

The stand out performance, not just for Scotland but as a whole, was by Scottish Sabreur Jess Corby who achieved three gold medals across the Cadet and Junior events. This is a unique achievement by Jess who now holds the current Commonwealth titles of Cadet Individual Champion, Junior Individual Champion, Junior Team Champion and Senior Team champion. No other Scottish fencer has achieved this amount of Commonwealth success in one season.

In the individual Junior Women’s Foil, Chloe Dickson secured a spot in the gold medal match with an excellent last hit at 14 all in the Semi-final. Dickson unfortunately could not recreate this success in the final, losing 15-13 to Amita Berthier from Singapore. Strong performances by the rest of the team left Scotland ranked 2nd going into the team event.  The team of Ailsa Morrison, Lorna Martin, Niamh O’Donnell, Katie Smith and Chloe Dickson progressed to the final by beating South Africa and Northern Ireland. They faced England in the final, who were seeded number 1 in the competition.  Scotland pulled away an early lead, and managed to maintain the gap for the entirety of the match. The English team brought the match to within 3 points going into the last 2 bouts but the Scottish team secured a 45-39 victory to take gold.

Jess Corby was not the only successful Scottish Sabreur at the championships. Her teammate Kate Daykin cruised through the initial knockout stages of the Junior competition and was only stopped in a close fought semi-final against Jess, which was won 15-13. Sarah-Jane Hampson battled through her quarterfinal to pick up a well-deserved bronze medal after returning from a long absence from the sport due to Knee surgery. All three along with Megan Gouw went on to comfortably win gold in the team event against England 45-30. 

Molly Hudson secured bronze in the Junior Women’s Epee event. Molly had navigated through the poule round by only dropping one fight, setting her up with a strong ranking.  She then came up against Jess Gundry from England in her semi final match. Unfortunately, Molly lost to Jess Gundry who eventually went on to win the title. In the team event, the Women’s Epee team made up of Sarah Harvey, Caitlin Philbin, Maya Kamat, Katie Knowles and Molly Hudson beat Australia in a tense third place play-off match to claim Bronze.

In the Cadet Women’s Epee Katie Knowles had an excellent poule leaving her ranked 2nd overall going into the direct elimination.  Katie put herself in contention for a medal as she faced Emily Principe from Australia in the quarterfinal. Katie pushed the fight all the way to 14-14 and only one point away from a guaranteed medal. Unfortunately, the last hit went the to the Australian, leaving Katie in a respectable and well deserved 5th place overall.

The Junior Men’s Sabre team managed to grab a bronze medal on the final day of competition. The team of Philip Gentz, Ross Manson, Lewis Clough and Andrew Williamson started the day as the 6th ranked team in the competition but were able to overturn a high ranked Jersey team in the first round. This setup a semi-final with a strong Welsh outfit that had taken the silver medal 3 years ago in the previous championships. The Scottish team lost a 45-34 to the Welsh and then faced an Indian team, which included the junior individual champion, in the bronze medal match. The Scots beat the Indian team in the third place play off match 45-41 to claim the medal.

The Men’s Junior Foil team were matched up against New Zealand in a tough quarterfinal to make the medal matches. The team could not recover after a slow start and lost the match, ending the team competition in 5th position. In the Individual event Ian Russell was defeated 13-15 after a fantastic comeback in a closely fought match against Lewis from Wales in the Last 16. Etienne Sadeghpoor also exited the competition at the same stage.

Mhari Mclaughlin had an excellent showing in the Women Cadet Foil. Mhari had a high ranking after the poule round and beat a South African and Northern fencer on her route to the quarter final. She however came unstuck against the Singapore fencer who went on to win the competition. 

The relatively young Men’s Cadet Foil squad were competitive in their competition and held their own in the poules with a special mention to Robbie Brown and Dylan Morrison, who competed in both the foil and epee events.

The Cadet Men’s Sabre squad competed well in their event and all recorded a last 16 finish. Toby Carter turned around a slow start to his competition with a fantastic win against the English fencer Christian Lindsay. Sam McLellan nearly pulled off a big upset against one of the top ranked English fencers, Nick Howes, but he was narrowly defeated 15-14.  

Chris Lechti picked up the best result in the Junior Men’s Epee with a Last 16, losing narrowly to 15-13 to Singh from India.

Away from the fencing the team were given the opportunity to explore the culturally rich city of Cape Town. As part of the recovery after the nearly 20-hour trip from Glasgow to Cape Town via Dubai the fencers were sent to explore the 1,085 metre high peak of Table Mountain. Luckily there is a cable car and the hiking was kept to a minimum. The views alone from the flat top were enough to get rid of any travel fatigue.

Other visits during the stay included Robben Island, Cape Point, the city’s Aquarium and the Waterfront of Cape Town.

Even though Scottish fencers were given the opportunity to explore everything Cape Town has to offer, it was refreshing to see the eagerness from the team to go to the venue and support the Scottish fencers competing. Scotland once again was the noisiest and most supportive crowd in the venue, and this was achieved through the support of a tightknit team, parents, family and the Directors of Scottish Fencing who made the trip and their voices heard.

The Scottish team had a successful championship and now the coaching staff will be working hard with the fencers at the Academy training weekends and within clubs as Scotland now looks ahead to more success in the UK School Games in just over a month’s time. 

 

Download full list of Scottish results 

 

Team report written by Michael Clarke