Fencing hopefuls hone their skills

Some of the brightest young talents in sword fighting have been put through
their paces at the third annual High Performance Fencing Camp run by Newcastle
The Newcastle University camp specializes in training young fencers in the
technical know-how and mechanics of the sport, including epee, foil and sabre, through the video analysis of their performance.

Most of the fencers attending the Newcastle camp already have national
rankings at youth level and the experience of several competitions under their belts.

Thirteen-year-old Andrew Williamson has been fencing for five years, and
recently represented Scotland in a junior quad team, coming second in the
competition between teams from England, Scotland, Wales and lreland. He has
also won the Boys Under 14 Scottish Secondary Schools Sabre championship on
behalf of his school, Lockerbie Academy, for the past two years.

Andrew, whose love of fencing began aged seven when he saw the film, The Mask of Zorro, said: "I wanted to come to the camp to improve my fitness and
technical skill, and to learn about nutrition".

Megan Lewis, 17, competes in Modern Pentathlon, which includes fencing as well as riding, running, shooting and swimming. She said: "Fencing was the last discipline I took up, so the last twelve months have
been a steep learning curve!

"A good fence in modern pentathlon can give you a good points advantage, so I really want to improve my fencing. I'm currently competing in regional and
national modern pentathlon competitions, and it can be difficult to find time to train for five disciplines, so a condensed week of fencing training is great for me", she said.

By moving away from the traditional summer camp format, which would normally
bring fencers of different abilities together for fitness and tactical training, the Newcastle programme aims to give the participants a real
competitive advantage.
Course Director Iain Aberdeen, a full time fencing coach and Director of
Fencing at Newcastle University, explains: "At Newcastle, the coaching team
works with each of the fencers individually to analyse footage of their
performance, and point out what is working and where they are going wrong.

"At the end of the week, each of the participants are given a copy of the
video recording of their performance, together with the analysis and feedback from the camp. This means that they can continue to work on improving the technical aspects of their fencing with their own coaches when they are back at home", he said.
Top British coach Paul Neil-MacLachlan, who is currently the Coach Education
Manager for Scottish Fencing, commented: "Thanks to the unique content of this course, fencers who attend the Newcastle camp will leave with a deeper
understanding of their weapon, and the ability to base their future improvement upon a great knowledge of the technical aspects of fencing".
David Kirby, a Great Britain national youth coache and a senior coach tutor in England, commented: "With its emphasis upon biomechanics - the underlying
analysis of the sport that enables fencers to reach their optimum performance - Newcastle University's fencing camp occupies a very specific niche. It nicely complements some of the other camps in Britain and abroad, and provides young fencers who are seriously pursuing the sport a chance to gain a real competitive edge over their rivals.

published on: 1st September 2009