LAST weekend’s Doric Open proved to be a huge success for Shetland fencers, who claimed six medals at the event in Aberdeen’s Beach Leisure Centre.
Saturday’s events saw the men’s épée first with some of Scotland’s top fencers entered.
The Shetland contingent got off to a good start with Paul Hibbert, Kyle Smith and Chris Hudson putting in good performances to seed them into a tough second round, with no “easy” pools to speak of.
Despite their performances, Kyle and Paul were knocked out in their first direct elimination. Deciding to make the most of their trip south they entered into the secondary competition for the plate.
Paul showed a great resilience in the plate, putting a series of victories together to earn himself a place in the final and claim a silver medal.
Later in the day the men’s sabre got under way, where Stephen Rocks returned for his first competition in a year after studying in Sweden.
With a small but strong entry, Stephen quickly found his feet, getting a several good results – including a narrow loss to the eventual winner in his pool fight.
The following day was the men’s foil and Chris, Kyle and Paul put in good performances from the word go, using it as an opportunity to practice their footwork and mental techniques.
The direct elimination rounds proved to be unfortunate for Shetlanders, with Stephen and Kyle getting knocked out in the first round followed by a fight between Paul and Chris.
Both being épéeists, the fight was long and hard with each fencer capitalising on any mistake the other made. Eventually in the sec-ond period Chris got a good lead, utilising recent footwork lessons to encroach on Paul’s distance.
With very little respite between rounds, Chris began fighting again within 10 minutes.
Starting positively he picked up a strong six-hit lead, but gradually his opponent fought back to bring it within one point. Digging deep, Chris managed to get the final hits together to claim the victory.
After a longer break, his next fight was against the number two seed and foil specialist. With a bright start Chris built up a good lead which was able to see him through to the semi-finals, despite a wavering final few minutes.
Now guaranteed a bronze medal in his secondary weapon, he was able to relax and enjoy his first semi-final of the season. Lasting through two periods, the fight was fought at a quick pace and highly competitive, but in the end his opponent’s familiarity in the weapon led to a 15-12 defeat.
In the secondary competition for the foil Stephen, Paul and Kyle dominated the event, claiming first, second and third respectively.
In the women’s foil Sophie Drosso and Sophie Rocks competed in their specialist weapons.
Sophie, in her first season of competitive fencing, fought hard against seasoned opponents throughout the day, particularly focusing on techniques practiced in the club and in lessons.
Sophie started off well, maintaining her recent run of good form with dominant performances in both the first and second round of pools.
Her first round direct elimination match was hard fought with Sophie taking the victory, leading into a difficult match against a left-handed fencer who was one of the few to have given her problems in her pool rounds.
Despite the awkward opponent, Sophie was determined to get into her first final of the season. With this determination she was able to claim a rightful victory.
Nervous but excited about being in her first Scottish final, Sophie’s nerves played little part in a solid and controlled performance that was eventually overcome by her opponent’s experience.
Shetland Fencing Club coach Andy Alderman, who travelled with the team, said this was just the start for Sophie.
“This is Sophie’s first full season and for her to have produced this many results, it shows her hard work, training and determination is starting to pay off. For her to get into the final this weekend is a fantastic way to end the season.
“Travelling down to competitions in different cities to compete against complete strangers can be a daunting prospect, but everyone who was competing this weekend showed they were more than capable of producing great performances.
“From Sophie’s final, to Chris finishing third in his second weapon or Paul, Stephen and Kyle’s performances in the secondary competition there isn’t any fencer I’m not pleased with and the way they fought over the week.”