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Podium pride for young Aussie fencers

9 March 2017

FENCING: Australia has performed incredibly at the Asian Cadet and Junior Fencing Championships in Korat, Thailand, finishing the competition with two bronze medals.

Of the 33 athletes it was the men’s Epee teams that stole the show though, with the Cadet (U/17) team of Alex English, Alex Sells, Peter Cobb and George Dale, and the Junior (U/20) team of Alex English, Alex Sells, Lachlan Crook and Isaac Hayes both taking home the bronze medal.

The teams achieved these results in fields that boasted some of the strongest fencing nations in the world, including Korea, Japan and China.

President of the Australian Fencing Federation and dual Olmpian Evelyn Halls was ecstatic with such a positive result on the world stage and believes it bodes well for the future.

"The performances of our teams in a competitive international field gives us great confidence in the quality of the athletes coming through our development programs,” Halls said, who hailed the team spirit in the group as a “key factor in their success.”

Aussie Alex English attributed this spirit to the close bonds shared by the teammates.

“The Cadet team competed in Europe in January so the chemistry was already working in our teamwork,” said English.

“We knew how to work together and we trust each other.”

The 16-year-old, who along with Sells played a part in both bronze medal teams, says they had high expectations going into the event.

“I think we all knew we were very well prepared physically and psychologically.

“It was just a matter of executing our plan.”

The Geelong local was undaunted when facing senior opposition, and credited his meticulous preparation for instilling him with confidence and self-belief to perform.

“Once on the piste (playing area) you just have to work your way through the game tactically.

“You don’t think about the experience or age of the person you’re against, so much as what tactics and skills you have to bring to your own game.”

With the road to Olympic qualification going through Asia and Oceania, Halls believes events such as these are a good measure of the team’s progress.

“Results in Asian competitions are critical to the future success of Australian fencing.

Australian athletes have not qualified for an Olympics since Beijing 2008, but positive results such as these provide Halls with hope that this drought may end at the Tokyo Games in 2020.

English however is keeping his feet firmly planted on the ground.

“Qualifying for the Olympics is quite a journey,” he said.

“At 16 I’m enjoying the journey - the discoveries, the back roads, the adventures – and one day I’ll arrive at the destination.”

Humble words, but with performances like these, that destination might just come sooner rather than later.

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