FENCING: Handy Andy retains Custodians crown

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WITH interest high after the London 2012 Olympic boom, Spalding Custodians Fencing club recently held its popular pre-season one-hit Epee tournament.

Serving as a warm-up event to the new season, which starts next month, it gave last year’s winner Andy Bayston the chance to flex his blade before concentrating on coaching for another year.

It was he who ran out as the eventual winner, but it was a far from a straightforward success.

Similar in format to that used in the modern pentathlon – where each competitor fights each other to one hit, with the weapon of choice being the Epee, the club’s fencers squared off in a round robin format.

Each fencer has a red or green light that displays on an electric score board when a hit is recorded.

A win registers a point, with defeat getting the competitors a zero. The fencer with the most points at the end of the tournament was declared the winner.

The added interest occurs when both the red and green lights come on at the same time. This is known as a double hit, and both fencers are penalised with a minus point. Fencers try to avoid this at all costs.

Defending champion Bayston felt the full force of his competitors raising their game to make it awkward from the start.

But by the half way mark he was level with under-15 East Midlands squad member Theo Edwards and reigning club Epee champion Andrew Clark, with the trio all undefeated.

By the next round pulled well clear as Edwards lost to both Bayston and Clark, and then Clark in turn lost to Bayston, Kelly Newell and surprisingly to newcomer Joe Neal.

With one round to go Bayston had an unassailable lead and regained his title, despite losing to his son Philip Bayston in the finale.

Edwards secured second place, with Clark clinching third place on count back from Philip Bayston.

As usual a second Epee competition was run afterwards. This time it was run as a proper knockout Epee contest, with double hits now being recorded as normal hits against each fencer.

It was Bayston and Edwards that reached the final, with Edwards the specialist Epeeist coming out on top 5-4.

Edwards is currently ranked as number two in the Leon Paul under-15 Junior Series – the main sponsors of British fencing – and is part of the East Midlands cadet squad .

He has represented the East Midlands at Epee at the British Youth Championships at under-16 level.

Fencing has featured in every modern Olympic Games since its conception in Athens 1896.

If the London Olympics has inspired anybody to take up a sport, the Custodians Fencing Club are happy to welcome all newcomers.

New cadet (14 years of age) and adult courses start in September at the Castle Sports Complex. Visit www.custodiansfencingclub.co.uk for more information.

Juniors (age 7-13years) can also try fencing with the club. Log on to www.spaldingswords.co.uk for further information.