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Weapons at the ready for Asian Championships

14 June 2017

FENCING: Fifteen of Australia’s best fencers are en route to Hong Kong, ready to come face to face with some of the world’s best.

The 2017 Asian Senior Championships kick off on Thursday, and Australian men’s foil athlete Lucas Webber is preparing himself for the talented caliber of fencers he will come up against.

“The Asian Championships has always been one of the toughest events on the calendar,” Webber said.

“Following the last Olympic cycle, the Asian fencing powerhouses China, Korea and especially Japan have made some changes to their teams but have looked very strong at international events so far this season.

“Beyond that, strong fencers from Kazakhstan, Thailand, Chinese Taipei, the Philippines, Kuwait and Vietnam will also be looking to start the new Olympic cycle off in good form.

“The density of the field will present an incredibly tough challenge for us as we look to challenge some of the world's best and we'll need to be on top of our game heading into both the Individual and Team events,” the 22-year-old said.

The 2015 Australian Foil Champion is even more determined for success this week after Saturday’s additional event announcement for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The IOC announced on Saturday that men and women’s teams will contest all three disciplines – foil, epee and sabre – at the next Summer Games. This means an additional two events will be added from Rio’s fencing programme, which did not feature a women’s team foil event or men’s team sabre event.

“The addition of two more events means that all team events will be fenced at the Olympics which is incredibly exciting for myself and the men's foil team as our event was scheduled to be rostered off in Tokyo,” the Melbournian said.

“We've had some excellent team results over the last couple of years and this just gives us added motivation to go even further!”

The men’s foil team has recently benefited from an AOC funding initiative, which sees sports that receive less than $100,000 per year from the ASC/AIS in high performance funding receive an additional $100,000 in funding from the AOC over four years, to help in preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The funding has assisted the Australian Fencing Federation in hosting two training camps in Sydney and Melbourne to help the men’s senior foil team prepare for 2017’s benchmark events - the Asian Championships and the World Championships in July.

The funding also helped send teams to an additional two international competitions earlier in the year; which Webber’s foil teammate Sholto Douglas said was a valuable opportunity.

“The AOC funded tours to Shanghai and St Petersburg were excellent for getting into form and overcoming nerves in the lead up to Worlds and Asians,” 21-year-old Douglas said.

With the extra training and competition experiences under their belt; Webber, Douglas and the entire Australian team are aiming to excel in Hong Kong.

“It's going to be tough but I know if I have a strong start to the day I can put myself in a good position to make the quarterfinal, which in a competition of this level would be an exceptional result and improve my world ranking significantly,” Webber said.

Douglas has similar aims for the tournament.

“Two years ago I made my first big international break by making the quarterfinals at the Asian Championships, raising my world ranking from in the 200s to about 70th,” he said.

“My goal is to make the quarterfinals again, and then to see how that match plays out, who knows how it'll go?

“In the teams, we've come 5th the last two years, but whilst there is still a definite gap between us and the top 4 teams, we're now chasing at Hong Kong and China's heels. I'd be very interested to see if we could pull off a great day and crack the top 4!”

Webber and Douglas will join Edward Fitzgerald and Chris Nagle in the men’s foil team, plus the other 11 athletes donning the green and gold in Hong Kong.

“The team dynamic at these events is actually a lot of fun. Most of us know each other quite well being on a smaller team so it's great to have your teammates there to cheer you on at the competition, explore a new city with or just relax at the hotel after the fencing is done for the day,” said Webber.

The Australian Fencing Team competing at the 2017 Senior Asian Championships:
Men’s Epee
Ross Austen
Kristian Radford
Scott Rawlins
Jeremy Shelly

Women’s Epee
Anne Deveraux
Dianna Gu
Emily Pattern
Emily Principe

Men’s Foil
Sholto Douglas
Edward Fitzgerald
Chris Nagle
Lucas Webber

Women’s Foil
Freya Clarke
Emily Marotta

Women’s Sabre
Samantha Auty

The 2017 Asian Championships will be held in Hong Kong from June 15-20.

Georgia Thompson
olympics.com.au

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