I was delighted and honoured to be selected as 1 of 4 male team members to represent Northern Ireland in Fencing Epee at the UK School Games from the 1st to the 4th September 2016.
Day 1 was travelling to Loughborough and attending the Opening Ceremony where the teams were paraded in and treated to an evening of entertainment in the form of song, dance and celebration of sport.
The National Cricket Performance Center was our venue for competition. The Individual competition consisted of around of Poules on Friday and Direct Elimination (DEs) on Saturday. At the end of the round of matches in the Poules, I was seeded into 13th position, which was not bad considering 3 out of the 4 medalists were in my section of the draw. My best result was beating the English number 2.
On the Saturday, my first round of DEs saw me drawn against the number 4 seed. This was always going to be a tough fight as this fencer was on the GB cadet team and had won the Silver Medal in the Individual Competition in 2015. Each match consists of 3 periods of 3 minutes and the first fencer to reach 15 points or have the higher score at the end of the time is the winner. While defensively I was good, he had the edge on me and in attack and reach. Although I took him to into the third period of time he was clearly the better fencer on the day and I was out of the competition and placed 13th.
Sunday saw the start of the team competition. The 4 Home Nations were seeded according to their individual results from Saturday. England, the top seed were matched against 4th place Scotland and Wales were matched against Northern Ireland. The winners of both matches would fence off for Team Gold and the other 2 teams would fence off for Bronze. The format is a “relay style” competition with 9 periods of fencing and each period lasts 3 minutes. The fencers change over when a team score 5 points or the 3 minutes elapse. The winner has the highest score at the end of the 9 periods or the first team to reach 45.
Wales proved too strong for us in the semi-final and in the Bronze medal fence off we met Scotland. Fencing in turns Conal, Paul, Michael and I led Scotland until the penultimate period. The final period was very tense and the pressure proved too much for Conal and we lost the Bronze medal 45-42.
There is always next year! ..