All the news from Ed & James
Ed and James are now back in Britain after a very hot 10 days in Szombathely, Hungary at an international training camp. They attended this as part of the AASE programme (Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence) which is run by British Fencing to sit alongside A Levels and is designed for fencers who have the realistic potential to achieve excellence and are seeking to perform at the highest level. The Szombathely camp is said to be the largest fencing camp in Europe and caters for epeeists and sabreurs as well as foilists.
As well as work on the AASE programme, there was mix of the usual fencing training - Strength and Conditioning, footwork, group exercises, sparring, team competitions and so on. One of the great things about international camps is the opportunity to spar in a non-competition setting with a wide variety of fencers - Ed was particularly pleased to have the chance to test himself again with fencers whom he fought at the World Championships earlier this year. Both Ed and James were able to have a number of lessons with their coach Paul Sibert, who is also an AASE coach and assessor, and enjoyed piste coaching Paul in the veterans' competition. In addition, Ed was also lucky enough to have several lessons with Kristof Szabados, the Hungarian cadet men's foil team coach and several times winner of the Hungarian men's foil championships.
The weather was the biggest trial, with temperatures reaching the high 30s and early 40s on some days. The heat made the competition on Saturday, the final full day of the camp, something of an endurance test. With 70 odd competitors from around the world, it was certainly challenging. Ed won his 5 poule matches very comfortably, finishing with a 5-0 win in 12 seconds. Ed faced fencers from England, Hungary, Saudi Arabia and the USA and this put him as 3rd seed for the DEs. James did equally well against a mixture of nationalities, also winning all his matches and going into the knock-out rounds as 6th seed.
Ed received a bye through L128. He faced a Hungarian fencer in L64 and raced through to a 15-2 win. James beat a Turkish fencer. Ed then faced Adam Suha in L32. Suha represents Hungary in cadet competitions and has had a number of notable wins in the past. Ed squeaked through with a 15-13 victory, but was less than happy with the refereeing. James beat another Turkish fencer.
Next up in L16 for Ed was Luca Valetti, who represented South Africa in the U17 World Championships. He had knocked out Leo Smrekar of Croatia in L32, who had also been at the Worlds, so was clearly on form. At 8-9 down, Ed decided to change his foil. Whether it was the new foil or a change of approach, it did the trick, as Ed took 6 straight points to win 15-9. James's next opponent, in L16, was John Griffin, of Houston, Texas - he made L8 in the US Cadet National Championships last month, so was another opponent in form. He'd also beaten Douggie Ashby (one of Ed's GB teammates in the European Championships) in L32. James was down to one working foil by this stage and he was more than frustrated to go out 12-15.
Ed's opponent in L8 was....John Griffin. He took a careful approach with Griffin and got the measure of him by making sure that he had priority and made his attacks count. He got 10 hits with only 1 in reply and finished the match 15-5. In the semi final match, Ed couldn't quite match GB's Connor Head, losing 9-15. Connor was the silver medallist in last month's GB Championships and his height and fast lunges gave him the edge. Connor went on to win the final 15-14.