The Public Schools Fencing Championship
The return of The Public Schools Fencing Championship (PSFC) meant the return to competition for Headington fencers.
This year the competition was held at a new venue, the amazing Lee Valley Sports Park and the Headington team was very much a new one too – only three of the 13 fencers scheduled to take part had previously competed at the championship and only two others had competed in an any form of fencing competition at all.
In the past, the fencing club has at least been able to prepare the girls by entering them in some County and Regional events beforehand, but this year, it was straight into competition.
Thanks to the enthusiasm and adventurous spirit of the girls, Headington still managed to have fencers taking part in all three weapon groups in all three age groups – although this was largely thanks to the hardy four, Charlotte (U4), Isobel (U5), Juliette (U6) and Tegen (U6) – who fenced three weapons on consecutive days. The PSFC is both an individual and team event with increasing team points accumulated by fencers for each round they survive.
Day one of PSFC was Foil Day for all the girls and despite their overall lack of match practice, the Headington foilists made a decent showing with three fencers – Charlotte, Isobel and Juliette – surviving both opening poule rounds and getting into the Direct Elimination stage of the competition and finishing in the top 32.
On Wednesday, Epee took the stage and, having got over their nerves of the opening rounds, the girls were very strong indeed. Credit here should be given to Ellie (L5) for her opening 5-0 victory and intelligent change of tactic and target which encouraged the others to emulate her in both.
Three fencers made it through both poule rounds – Charlotte, Tilly (L5) and Jennifer (L6) – and into the Direct Eliminations finishing in the top 32 – with Marielle (L5) incredibly unlucky to miss out by only two hits.
Charlotte fenced exceptionally well in only her second Epee event, to finish in the top eight, picking up a fifth place medal.
Thursday was Sabre Day. Headington fielded a small team – most of whom were fencing Sabre for the first time at PSFC – or anywhere. Despite this and with two days of competition behind most of them, the team fenced well. Charlotte finished 11th in the Mount Haes competition, Isobel a respectable 22nd in the Junior Sabre. Juliette and Jennifer had their own private battle (they had also had to fence each other in the Epee the day before) with Jennifer finishing 17th in the Girls Senior Sabre with Juliette 15th.
Tegen fenced a magnificent first round – not dropping a fight. She cruised through to the quarter finals where she met a very fast fencer from an old Headington rival, Brentwood School, where fencing is part of the School curriculum. This became a battle of speed and fitness over determination and tactical awareness. At the half way break Tegen was 8-2 down. She then fought back with a stunning run of 9 consecutive hits. But the effort required put paid to her chances.
This was Tegen’s last PSFC – she has fenced strongly and well in all her previous appearances consistently gaining top eight places in all weapons. She bowed out of her last PSFC 13-15, finishing with a sixth position medal.