Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The final thoughts.

Ahh back home.

But the memories will sparkle and shine forever ... Penang was a wonderful destination and experience.

For all the followers of the team through this blog ... thank you for your support. We have enjoyed providing the feeling of the championships and we think that it has been a good idea. It is the first time we have done this so please write your comments and let us know what you think and ideas of how we could improve it.

Please note that we did not put any video clips on as we were not sure if it would make things too slow for people (like myself) who still rely on "dial-up" at home rather than broadband internet connections.

Once again thank you Penang and paraphrasing those famous words and accent "We'll be back".

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Haere ra - Fairwell to Penang

Haere ra.

We bid fairwell to Penang. We have had a great time, the fencing competition was good. We met old friends, made new friends and really enjoyed the experience.

It has been a pleasure to have been able to assist our fencers on this adventure to the 2009 Commonwealth Junior Fencing Championships in Penang, Malaysia. It was a privilege, pleasure and an inspiration to have seen all the new Commonwealth Junior Fencing Champions fencing, in action on the piste. To all the fencers who helped prepare the teams and to all the participants from all the Commonwealth countries we thank and salute you.

We thank everyone for their contribution and co-operation. Thank you very much.

We thank our hosts the Malaysian Fencing Federation and the Penang Amateur Fencing Association for the running of this "Fencing Festival". In particular we thank Dr Kenny Ong, President of Penang Amateur Fencing Association and his amazing support team for their passion, enthusiasm and committment to ensuring these 2009 Commonwealth Junior Fencing Championships were the best they could be. Carine, and Jason have been a real service to our fencers, thank you.

Haere ra Penang

Good bye and thanks for everything.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday 21 February Competition Day 5

Final day of competition with the team fencing, Women's Foil (no team, Men's Epee and Men's Sabre).

All events were started at the same time. Fortunately Men's Sabre was split in to two waves, with NZ vs Malaysia in the second wave.

Men's Epee:
NZ lost the toss with Wales so were fencing on the bottom of the score sheet (fencers 4, 5 and 6). The Welsh began with their best fencer and and took a small 2 hit lead, which extended to a 7 hit lead over the next two bouts. At the end of the third bout we were being led by Wales 15-8. A brilliant epee display was given by Chris (The Dish) Bell who returned to the piste, demolishing their number 3 fencer. He scored 12 hits for only four received and positioned NZ with a 1 hit lead, 20-19. The Welsh immediately responded by substituting that fencer.

In the subsequent bouts the Welsh then increased their lead once again putting on a further 14 points for New Zealand's 5. In the second to last bout with the score at 25-33 for Wales, Chris (The Dish) Bell again worked his magic, 13 hits for only 7 received. He closed the score to a 2 hit margin, 38-40 for Wales, who maintained and improved that in the final bout, beating NZ 45-41.

Men's Sabre:
The men's sabre team, 7th seed against the 2nd seed Malaysia. The New Zealanders fenced valiently, the clearly superior team. The victory was in no doubt with Malaysia winning 45-16. The internationally recognised sabre referee made the comment that the New Zealand Sabreurs had quite good hands, were clear with the blade, but were let down by poor footwork skills and need to put a lot more time and effort in to the developing the quality of their footwork with high volume of quality training so they can move smoothly, quickly and accurately.

The final team events were passionate, intense and loud. All three finals were fenced simultaneously, which made videoing interesting. Men's sabre was the first to finish, with England beating Malaysia, then the Men's Epee had a last bout begin, locked at 40-40 between England and Malaysia, with Malaysia coming out the victors. In the Women's Foil Scotland decisvely beat Wales.

And all that is left is the Final Function in our hotel's ballroom tonight. Hats, tee-shirt and tracksuit swapping is still in full swing. So more to follow ... see you later ... I have a ball to go to.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday 20th February Competition Day 4

Individual events are over. Now for the team events. Unfortunately all team events fought on a direct elimination basis, based upon team seeding from the individual events. Unfortunate because this means that half the teams have only one match before elimination - a different sort of time tabling would have permitted a round of two or three pools with at least 3 teams, that is 2 teams matches before a DE tableau. This is just an organisational observation for this sort of event which is after all a "Festival Of Youth" experience, not an FIE Championship event.

The palpable camaraderie and friendships that have developed between the fencers from different "countries" is wonderful. Kids at heart and kids at play (well young adults/teenagers actually - please excuse the poetic license), having fun - at the medal ceremonies, kicking balls and balloons around, swapping tee-shirts (NZ white polo tops with black side slash flash are an "in demand" hot ticket item along with the Welsh Dragon Tee-shirts). Hats are a popular fashion item, either funny floppy Welsh dragons or jaunty black felt hats worn at rakish angle "A La Mode" but hats must not be worn on podium for the medal ceremonies. Flag waving and cheering at all occasions is perfectly acceptable.

The spirit of these Championships has definitely gone up a notch or two. Support comes from from all countries, cheering for their new friends, especially if they are the underdog, encouraging and urging each other on. The end results may not be any different but proof that it is not the destination that is important but the journey, and the journey can be fun.

The refereeing has been pretty good. Steve Clarke and Laura Harvey, our referees, have had a pretty long and steady week. Up with the lark for long days - leaving the hotel for the venue as the sun rises and then returning as the sun sets - so not seeing much "real" daylight between. Both have taken the pressure in their stride.

Sue Cowper our roving supporter has also been a great asset to the team. Sue has been able to assist the team "goforing" and shopping, helping members not needing to be out at the venue first thing, to catch the later 9:30 bus to the venue. How she managed to do all the shopping and bring 15 litres of water back to the hotel was a Herculean feat.

Today it rained ... as we left ... heavily ...wow! And it is so much cooler as well. Quite refreshing, or perhaps we are acclimatising.

At the pointy end, today we had Men's Foil and Women's Epee teams, but no Women's Sabre team.

The Men's Foil:
The team ranked 7th out of 8 teams drew Singapore - and having won the toss and taken the top of the score sheet Chris Bell took the team to a 5-3 lead after the first bout. In the second bout the lead was quickly extended to four hits before the Singaporeans were shaken awake - the sleeping dragon when woken is very dangerous - and this one responded. The consistency of the Singaporeans was overpowering. Everyone worked hard to bring the score back, and Hamish Chan was especially noteworthy, his patience and ability to hold his own on attack and defense, going to time, held the score through the middle bouts. But in the end the Singapore fencers proved they were the better team winning 45-29.

The Women's Epee:
The team was seeded 8th out of 8 teams and it was "Mission On" against the eventual Gold Medal all conquering England Team. Losing to England 12-45 was an achievement in itself considering the very strong English lasses went on to beat the silver medal Malaysian Team 45-28.

Day 5, the final day of competition, will have us with a Men's Sabre Team seeded 7th against 2nd seeded Malaysia, and our best medal prospect - the Men's Epee team which is seeded 5th against 4th seeded Wales.

So "In bocca luppa" ... in to the wolf's mouth ... and best wishes from Penang.

Martin, Kate and all the Team and Supporters

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday 19th February Competition Day 3

Last day of individual competitions - women's foil and men's sabre.

We arrived as usual to a darkened stadium and no airconditioning - lights & a breeze were operational 10 mns later. No protests about rankings this morning, for a change - watch this space..

The women's foil had 36 starters in 6 pools of 6. Chris Bell generously came to the venue to warm up with Sally and support her and the sabreurs. In the pool, Sally won 1 bout, lost 4, giving her 29th place in the Direct Elimination tableau of 32. She then fenced Huan of Malaysia, losing 15/10. Final placing 33rd.

In the first round of the sabre, after the seemingly obligatory redrawing of pools following a protest, Will Cowper won 1 bout, lost 4. His victory was in his last bout, against Yu of Malaysia, who until then had a clear record. V5/2 to Will. Seeded at #26 after round 1.

Will then encountered Yu again in the DE of 32, and this time he was wide awake. final score 15/5 to Yu.

Aidan was in a pool of 7, and finished the round with no victories. His DE bout was against the #2, Sam Brightman of England. One memorable hit was when Aidan pushed Brightman back towards his back line - he went off the back of the piste in a hurry.

So, sadly, no kiwis were left on the pistes by the end of the morning.

We stayed to watch some of the DE bouts, then headed back to the hotel for some rest and recreation.

Teams tomorrow - Men's Foil & Women's Epee.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday 18 February Competition Day 2

Men's Foil 40 fencers and Women's Epee 35 fencers

After Round 1
Men's Foil - Hamish Chan 4 wins 2 loss (12th seed), Hamish Clarke 3 wins 3 losses (21st seed), Chris Bell 2 wins 3 losses 27th seed), Ben Wilkins 2 wins 4 losses (30th seed).

Women's Epee - Rebecca Cribbin 2 wins 4 losses (23rd seed), Carla Campbell 2 wins 4 losses (24th seed), Jazmin Hopper 0 wins 6 losses (35th seed).

Hamish Chan, Hamish Clarke, Rebecca Cribbin and Carla Campbell all had byes through to the DE tableau of 32.

Ben Wilkins eliminated in first DE, final place 34th. Chris Bell won strongly against Nadir (India) and Jazmin Hopper won a close nail biter 15-14 against 30th seed Davies (Wales).

Rebecca, Carla and Jazmin all eliminated in the direct elimination of 32 fencers. Cribbin 23rd, Campbell 24th Hopper 32nd.

In the DE of 32, Hamish Chan and Hamish Clarke drew each other, with Chan proving the stronger to take the victory. Chris Bell lost to Holder (ENG). Clarke placed 22nd, Bell 27th.

Hamish Chan confronted Mathew Lam (Singapore) losing a close bout which swung in the balance after Lam gained a clear lead after the first period and was quickly pulled back by Chan and reached a one hit lead for Chan at 10-9 going into the last period. After a period of tit for tat Lam pulled away for the 12-15 victory. Hamish Chan's final placing 12th.

Sorry no pictures today, at the critical moment found the camera not working. After disassembly then putting it all back together again it is now working. Sadly this was after all the Kiwi fencers had ended their day. Pics for sure tomorrow.

On the piste for competition Day 3 will be Sally McCance in Women's Foil along with William Cowper and Aidan Taylor in Men's Sabre.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday 17th February Competition Day 1

Men's Epeeists Gideon van Zyl and William Bishop were first up.

A slow start due to poule changes after a successful protest regarding seedings. Original poules changed - Gideon was in a poule of 6 and won 3 lost 2, William was in a poule of 7, won 5 lost 1. Gideon was seeded into the DE 17th and William 5th.

Gideon lost first DE to Kristian Radford (AUS) for a final placing 20th.

In the 32 William Bishop beat Davidson (AUS), then Robert Allen (South Africa) to reach the last 8. He then powered on through James Allen (ENG) to reach the semi finals losing to Gandolfi (ENG) and winning the 2009 Commonwealth Junior Men's Epee Bronze medal.