Shetland Fencing Club had an impressive nine competitors in the biggest senior Scottish fencing event of the calendar at Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh.
For junior fencers this level of competition is very tough, as they will compete against experienced seniors from the UK and abroad.
Living in Shetland it is not practical to “do the rounds” each weekend of the junior events to build up experience. However, last weekend showed that many juniors can achieve big results, with Chris Rocks reaching the final of the men’s épée event and winning a silver medal.
Saturday saw the men’s foil get under way with the women’s épée starting later on in the morning.
In the first round of poules, Chris Hudson was able to string several results together to finish second in his group, followed closely by Paul Hibbert and Stephen Rocks who fought hard throughout the round.
The younger fencers fared well for having only fenced competitively on the mainland for just over a year. With strong performances from Kyle Smith, Jordan Thomson and Magnus Johnstone throughout the early stages they set themselves up well for the next round.
With most poules in the first round unbalanced in some cases the second round provided a harder challenge with the more experienced fencers spread out over the groups.
Having weathered the second round of poules, the first round of direct elimination saw senior club captain Paul Hibbert fight off against Dundee fencer Alex Keddie. The fight lasted all three periods, forcing Paul to concentrate hard after taking an early lead. Despite a late third period comeback, he was able to dominate the fight long enough to ensure a 14-11 victory.
Kyle put on a heroic display against one of the German fencers in the competition. Again, having been fencing on the mainland competitively for just over a year, he pulled out an impressive performance. His opponent, never once hesitating to criticise the referee’s decisions, tested Kyle’s levels of concentration. Despite the hard work Kyle was narrowly beaten 15-13.
Jordan Thomson drew “overseas” club captain Chris Hudson in his first round fight. The all-Shetland affair saw each fencer in turn take control. After a hard-fought comeback in the latter part of the fight from Jordan, Chris finally won 15-10.
Stephen Rocks drew one of Scotland’s top fencers of the moment, Neil Tannock, who recently shot up the British rankings. He kept very close to Neil right through the fight, but with time running out, and Stephen having to take more risks, Neil drew away to win.
Shetland Fencing Club head coach Andy Alderman said he was delighted with the performances of the youngsters.
“I’m really pleased with the way all my fencers approached this weekend, from Kyle, Magnus and Jordan’s performances in the foil to Sophie Rocks and Sophie Drosso in both their events,” he said.
“This weekend can also be considered a success for the club’s set-up. We are now lucky enough to have the club captain Paul Hibbert helping to organise the travel arrangements for getting to the venue.
“In addition, club fencers who are now based on the mainland such as Christopher Hudson who helps at the competition coaching, Christopher Rocks and Stephen Rocks, have helped with warm-ups as well.”
Sunday consisted of another full day but different weapons. Shetland fencers competed in the men’’s épée, sabre and women’s foil.
The juniors all acquitted themselves well despite coming straight off a hard day on Saturday.
The highlight of the day was the results of Chris Rocks and Chris Hudson, fencers who are now gaining the benefits of much hard work at junior level.
Chris Hudson showed great concentration and patience to hold off some very tough challenges, eventually going out to the American winner of the men’s épée in the last eight, to gain an impressive sixth place in the competition.
Chris Rocks showed an equal determination throughout the day and reached the final, meeting the aforementioned American fencer.
The final was closely competed and looked as though it was going to go the full distance from the start. The experience and variation in tactics of the American saw him through and rounded off the finish to another good weekend for Shetland fencing.