Shetland fencing triumphed at Scotland’s most prestigious competition at the weekend with local fencer Christopher Rocks becoming Scottish épée champion and his twin brother Stephen coming fifth in the men’s sabre.
The pair had been competing in the country’s most prestigious fencing competition, the Scottish Open, along with other Shetland fencers. Two junior fencers performed well, with 13-year-old Mhairi Gifford, fencing in her first major competition, coming 13th in the sabre and 18th in the foil, and 15-year-old Sophie Rocks, younger sister of the twins, 11th in the épée and 21st in the foil.
Christopher, who was previously ranked sixth in Scotland, is now expected to move up the rankings. He said: “I’m pleased [the competition] went well. I felt I fenced well and knew I could win it. I’ve come close before, I was in the final last year. I’m pleased the training paid off and hopefully can build on it and get into the Commonwealth team this year.”
Although the twins are now based in the central belt, they still train with Shetland Fencing Club under Andy Alderman whenever possible.
Christopher said: “I would like to thank all the coaches at Shetland Fencing Club, especially Andy Alderman.”
Stephen also paid tribute to the club coaches, and said of his performance at the weekend: “I was a bit disappointed but it was a good start to the second half of the season. I was delighted to see Christopher win.
“We will next be competing in the Essex Open and hopefully do well there. We will try and do as many competitions as possible [this season].”
Mr Alderman said the squad’s success and Christopher’s significant victory was the result of hard training and commitment involving training over the Christmas holiday in the Vidlin Hall – even on Christmas Eve.
He said he was delighted with the fencers’ performance, which would give them confidence and act as a springboard for the rest of the season.
Of Christopher’s achievement he said: “It shows it can be done if you’re prepared to work, it takes dedication. He controlled the fights and stuck to the goals set.”
Stephen had also got a “fantastic result” and should improve his ranking as well – prior to the competition he was ranked 11th in Scotland.
He said the twins, who started fencing when they were seven, had put a lot of work in this year and been to a lot of competitions. “It’s good to get results under your belt.”
Unfortunately many Shetland fencers were not able to make the competition due to the extreme weather conditions. However Shetlander Chris Hudson, now based on the mainland, was able to compete, gaining victories before being knocked out in the direct eliminating stage.