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AOC provides funding for fencing's rising stars

24 March 2017

FENCING: The Australian Fencing Federation has described funding from the Australian Olympic Committee as “a real positive” which bolsters the team’s pursuit of a place at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The funding forms part of an initiative by the AOC for sports who currently receive less than $100,000 per year from the ASC/AIS in high performance funding to help in preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.  

The first allocation of the $100,000 the AOC is providing fencing over the next four years will be used to hold two additional training camps in Sydney and Melbourne. These camps will help the men’s senior foil team prepare for 2017’s benchmark events - the Asian Championships in June and the World Championships in July.

“We're keen to build on the outstanding results already achieved by this group, who have the potential to become genuine medal contenders,” said Australian Fencing Federation President Evelyn Halls.

It will also fund two extra overseas competitions in Shanghai and St Petersburg in May, which will provide competitive practice before the year’s major events.

Halls has welcomed the support and believes it provides the team with invaluable training and experience.

“Fencing is a combat sport, so obviously it’s really important to get regular training with high quality training partners and also to get out overseas and compete.

“You just need to be exposed to that environment constantly to really become comfortable performing at that level.

“Without that, it’s very difficult to progress to the top level.”

The foil team have performed impressively in the recent years, achieving top-eight finishes in the past two Junior World Championships.

These results have had a positive influence on the Australian squad, as evidenced at last week’s Asian Cadet and Junior Fencing Championships in Korat, Thailand.

The men’s cadet and junior epee teams both secured bronze medals in an impressive set of performances that saw them overcome some of the strongest fencing nations in the world.

As one of the more senior teams, the men's foilists have set the example for others and an improvement to their preparations is a boost to the entire Australian fencing community.

“They see what can be done when you all work together with that real team based mentality,” Halls said of the team’s positive influence on other athletes.

The focus now is on helping them fulfil their potential, and Halls believes the opportunities they can now provide are key to that goal.

“They have a lot of talent and a lot of commitment and we see them really well placed not only for Tokyo, but for 2024 as well.

“We’re looking to really build their experience and create that trajectory so they will be able to qualify for both Games, not only to qualify but to be genuinely competitive.

“That’s why we are really excited that we can give them the opportunity to get overseas a bit more and also have those intense training camps with each other.”

The dual Olympian has also welcomed the support at such an early point in the Olympic cycle.

Despite the Tokyo Games being over three years away, Halls understands first-hand the importance of beginning preparations as early as possible.

“It’s not the sort of thing that you can fund at the last minute and expect to get results so we are excited about the potential to build the results across the three years.”

A timely boost for a sport on the rise in Australia.

The Australian senior Fencing team will next compete at the Asian Championships at Hong Kong in June, while the Junior team will compete at the World Cadet & Junior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in April.

Nathan Lange

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