2002 Challenge Australian 2010 - World Cup Epee

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News Reports

Aleksandr The Great leading Japan's new generation

23 May 2010 - By Ksenia Kozlova

A contender for the surprise package of the 2010 ALG Challenge Australia 2010 would be the performance of the Japanese men’s squad with Koshiro Uehara competing in the quarterfinals and Keisuke Sakamoto winning the silver medal.

It looks like major changes are afoot in the Japanese team that has been training under a new coach since 2009.

Aleksandr Gorbachuk, once a successful Ukrainian athlete and number one in his home country, brought along precious experience and European tradition.

The coach, whose native Russian tongue is already being used to spur the team on in competitions, has been fencing since he was ten.

"It was all by chance that I began to fence," Gorbachuk said. "I used to play football and volleyball. Once we were training together with fencers in the same hall. I was fascinated by the athletes with swords and decided to try it."

That chance encounter with fencing has resulted in medals at European championships, Universiades and European Cups. He competed in Sydney at the Olympic Games in 2000 and was runner-up at the European Championship in 2005, the year he decided to retire.

"I’ve been working as a coach since 2005 when I started to train the Ukrainian team. We are still working together on different occasions. Thus both our teams were training side by side in Japan this year."

The cooperation of both countries proves to be very successful. Besides Gorbachuk, there are two other Ukrainian coaches assisting Japanese fencers. He underlines that it is extremely important to keep learning and joining different styles and schools of fencing.

"Japanese have a different attitude to fencing. Many of them try to combine it with their work or studies and on graduating from the university many prefer to concentrate on their job rather than being professional fencers."

"Besides there have been no good Japanese fencers the younger ones can looking up to, which is something I want to change."

If the foundations that Gorbachuk has been laying is anything to go by, then it would be the likes of Uehara and Sakamoto spurring on a new generation of Japanese fencers to take the sport up.

Tournament a success, say organisers

23 May 2010 - By Gemma Noon

The 2010 ALG Challenge - Australia’s biggest fencing tournament - has been a resounding success for the Australian fencing community, according to Australian Fencing’s Major Events Director Bill Ronald at the closeof the event on Sunday.

"The tournament has been a success, especially for the athletes as they work towards improving their seedings on the pathway to London (Olympics in 2012). It shows how the Sydney fencing community can come together to build an outstanding event and builds on the legacy of the Sydney Olympics," Ronald said.

He says the organisers have managed to create an athlete-friendly, world class event which continues to be popular with fencers from around the world.

"Many athletes return time after time because they enjoy the tournament so much; we pride ourselves on making it an athlete’s event," Ronald said.

American Weston Kelsey beat Japan's Keisuke Sakamoto to win the men's event while Germany's Imke Duplitzer beat Dutchwoman Sonja Tol to take home the gold medal in the women's event.

No Australian fencers reached the medal matches, however dual Olympian Evelyn Halls reached the top eight in the women’s competition, while James Lewis reached the top 16 in the men’s.

Having a World Tour event in Australia also provides valuable experience to Australia’s younger athletes such as Diana Sher, Nick Davies and James Lewis. Sher, a promising junior, came up against Beijing 2008 gold medallist Britta Heidemann in a Direct Elmination match on Sunday. Heidemann eventually finished with the bronze medal after a defeat against Duplitzer in their semifinal.

"The probability of drawing someone (Heidemann) like that is rare," Australian High Performance Manager Peter Osvarth said.

"The event brings world class fencers to Australia which our fencers wouldn’t otherwise face. It raises the profile of the sport for both athletes and spectators and brings us to the attention of the world fencing community," he continued.

The Challenge is also a valuable performance indicator for Australia’s more seasoned fencers.

"It gives our juniors an idea of the gap between what they do and what they aspire to do; it gives our previous Olympians a chance to come  out and see where they currently stand," Osvarth said.

Duplitzer wins women's competition at ALG Challenge

23 May 2010

Imke Duplitzer was crowned the winner of the 2010 ALG Challenge Australia after a convincing 12-6 win over the Netherlands' Sonja Tol in the gold medal match on Sunday.

After dominating the first round but letting her opponent back into the bout in the second the thrid was well poised with just a strike seperating the two.

But Duplitzer kept her focus and piled the pressure on the German and won the final round 6-1 to win the gold medal.

"It was a good game because I stayed quiet throughout the match and I didn't let my opponent provoke me. When you compete against Tol you should shouldn't attack," said Duplitzer.

"It's always disappointing coming second, because it means your the first loser, but I have the European championships coming up in July, so I will look ahead to them," said silver medalist Tol.

"It's always disappointing to lose a semi-final but winning and losing happens all the time in a fencers life. It's always hard to fence against a team mate, of course I'm not happy to lose but now I just have to concentrate for the next competition," said bronze medalist Britta Heidemann of Germany

"Of course to win bronze I am happy but the target when you come into a competition is to win so at first there is a moment of disappointment," said compatriot and fellow German Monika Sozanska.

Kelsey takes out men's title at ALG Challenge

23 May 2010

Weston Kelsey secured the 2010 ALG Challenge Australia title with an extra-minute victory over a stubborn Keisuke Sakamoto in the gold medal match on Sunday.

The Japanese fencer had looked dead and buried 10-8 down with seven seconds to go, only to score two quick-fire strikes to take the bout to extra-time.

But his heriocs only delayed the heartbreak as Kelsey struck the winning blow one second into the extra-minute to secure himself gold and confine Sakamoto to silver.

“I knew exactly what I wanted to do (throughout the match). I wanted to dictate the bout instead of me following him. That last touch, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to go for him right off the line and if I was going to lose it was going to be based on what I was doing," said Kelsey.

"It was a very diffcult match and I am very happy becuase it was the first time I won a medal at the World Cup," said Sakamoto.

"I was happy with my fencing but it was a tough match and I suppose the pressure told in the end," said Bajgovic.

Men's semifinal lineup decided

23 May 2010

Portugal's Joaquim Videira has justfied his top seeding in the men's competition by making the last four at the 2010 ALG Challenge in Sydney.

Videira beat Japan's Koshiro Uehara 15-12 in his quarterfinal match to set up a match against Uehara's compatriot Keisuke Sakamoto in the semifinal

Sakamoto defeated Max Heinzer of Switzerland 15-10.

The opening half of the bout was a tight affair, with Sakamoto edging ahead of his opponent one point at a time.

But with an 8-7 lead at the halfway stage Sakamoto stepped up a gear and fenced his way to a 14-10 lead before claiming match point and a little revenge over his opponent.

"Last year I lost to Heinzer 15-14 and this year I really wanted to win," Sakomoto said after the duel.

"This will be the first time I fence against Videira. I have watched him many times, he has a very strong touch."

American Weston Kelsey also booked his spot in the last four, scraping past Britain's Jonathan Willis 5-4 in a tight quarterfinal bout.

Willis opened scoring and was leading 3-1, but Kelsey clawed back to 4-4. Kelsey’s persistent assault continually forced Willis back down the piste, and the swordplay was frantic and fast.

Kelsey attributes his win to his weight work and committed attitude.

"We’ve been killing ourselves in the weight room lately and I was able to fully commit myself in the final movement and go for the body," Kelsey said.

The final semifinal spot was earned by Tigran Bajgoric who beat fellow Canadian Hugues Boisvert-Simard 15-11.

With little separating the two, it was Bajoric's superior speed that got him home. For Bajoric it was a match he was confident of winning from the outset, despite being the lower seed.

"Usually I'm the one who beats him. I've had a good record over him for the past 3-4 years. But he is higher ranked than me and having a great season, so I had to be careful. Our training bouts are nothing like competition, it's very intense."

While most athletes enjoy sports electrolytes for hydration, Bajoric revealed his secret weapon, Coca-Cola.

"It's got a lot of caffeine, really wakes up your mind and keeps you alert. Red Bull does the same, but it messes with your stomach.

Competition gets no easier for the Canadian. Lying ahead in the semi-final is Kelsey, in what could be called a 'David and Goliath' match up.

"He is a big strong guy, so I can't over power him. I need to use my speed."

Lewis pick of the Australian men

23 May 2010 - By Andy Pickering

James Lewis was the pick of the Australian male fencers at the 2010 ALG Challenge as he just missed out making the top eight.

He was eliminated in a thrilling 14-13 encounter with Japan's Koshiro Uehara in their Round of 16 match on Sunday afternoon.

Early he faced 56 ranked Lai Chen Lau in the final 32 - the Hong Kong fencer getting a bye after the American ninth seed Benjamin Bratton no showed which presented an easier route than he maybe would have met on another day.

"Yeah, I got a bit of luck but I also look to the fact that I earned that position by impressive results in the poules so it wasn't a complete fluke," he said.

He failed to capitalise from 12-9 up against Uehara who forced an extra minute at 13-13 and then got the all important strike to blight an otherwise impressive weekend for the 20-year-old.

"I came here from with the goal of a top 16 and I achieved that so I'm happy. It's definitley been a good week," he said.

Singapore and Hong Kong record encouraging results at Challenge

23 May 2010 - By Andy Pickering and David Fanner

Despite no one outstanding result the Singapore team will leave Sydney and the 2010 ALG Challenge happy when they depart for home tomorrow.

Wei Wen Lim was the top placed male with a top 32 finish while Nicolette Junyi Soh and Magdalene Xin'Ein Huang both scored a top 64 finish.

"Although our results maybe don't look that great we are competing against some of the top fencers in the world here so we are happy," said Samson Mun Hou Lee who recorded a top 64 finish.

Next they travel to the Asian Fencing Championship in Seoul in July with high ambitions.

"My aim is for a top 8 finish and I really believe I can do it," said Lee.

The ALG Challenge is also seen as a stepping stone to bigger things by the Hong Kong team.

"We're doing okay," said fencer Leung Ka Ming. "We're pretty happy that Tsui Yiu Chung is still in the tournament, but the rest of us have been knocked out, so I guess well have to wait for next year!"

"We're a close group now. We came together and are also staying together, but actually at home in Hong Kong we are not in the same fencing clubs. We don't practice together."

"This is the second year that were here, we like Australia, its good, a good country. But this is a quick trip, were here for only three days then we have to go back to Hong Kong."

Veteran Frenchman has still got it

23 May 2010 - By Andrew Hendry

Veteran Frenchman Jerome Rouillaux competed at the first World Cup fencing event in 1987, twenty-three years later at Sydney's ALG Challenge Cup he is still in winning form.

Rouillaux defeated one of Australia’s last hopes in the men’s event, Ross Austen, 15-9, to setup a quarter-final match with a competitor almost half his age.

"I am quite happy because this tournament is really for pleasure for me," Rouillaux said after his winning bout.

"I was at the first World Cup in 1987, so it’s not so easy for someone of my age. The head and the hands are still there, but it’s a little more difficult for my legs to keep up," he joked.

Rouillaux said he had rediscovered the sensation and pleasure of competition fencing after some time off the circuit.

"It’s like a drug, you feel your body and your spirit deep inside. At my age this is a great feeling," said the Parisien, who know lives in New Caledonia and is the director of a youth and sports academy.

Rouillaux is aiming for a top eight finish, and will meet Swiss fencer Max Heinzer in the quarter finals. Rouillaux joked that his concentration must be at 100 per cent against such a young opponent, who was a finalist at the last World Cup in France.

"My next match (against Heinzer) will be difficult. I think I am double his age!"

Mills the sole Israeli fencer

23 May 2010 - By Ksenia Kozlova

Israel’s lone representative at the 2010 ALG Challenge, Noam Mills left the competition at the quarterfinal stage following a 15-9 loss to four-time German Olympian Imke Duplitzer in their contest on Sunday afternoon at PCYC Marrickville.

Though fencing is very popular in her country, Mills is the sole woman competing in senior competitions at the international level.

"We are just starting to get professional," Mills’s coach Ohad Balva said. “We have a good junior program and are now building tradition and gathering experience."

This is the first time Mills is competing in Australia. She was ten when she started fencing at school as an afternoon activity with a friend.

"Being strong is not enough. Fencing is like playing chess while running a 100 metre race, and it is a chess part that I like most of all," she said.

"Noam is very smart and wise, and it is 80% mental, which decides the outcome of a bout. She is very intelligent in a fight and very competitive learning all the time, Balva said.

Noam is now studying at Harvard University in Boston. She trains there on her own following a special program and comes to her home country in winter and summer for two or three months to work with Ovad Balva.

"We want to push it slowly. It is not good to put all the eggs into one basket. You should be able to do other things as well," her coach said.

"Our next objectives are to be among the best eight in Europe and the 16th in the world. It would be good to win a medal in the European Championships in Leipzig and to qualify for the Olympic Games."

Noam, who’s won the Israel Senior Fencing Championship on four occasions, says she isn't too fussed about who her opponents are. She is her own toughest rival and her sole ambition now is to beat her best score and to finish as well as she can.

"This competition was a very good preparation for the Grand Prix in Montreal, which takes place next week," Mills said.

Evelyn Halls eliminated in quarters

23 May 2010 - By David Fanner

Australia's last competitor in the 2010 ALG Challenge, Evelyn Halls has bowed out in the quarterfinals, going down in a closely fought bout with Germany's Monika Sozanska 15-13.

Sozanksa, whose speed is one of her strengths, had to adjust her game to defeat Halls.

"She (Halls) has her own style, its hard to get the distance," Sozanska said. "That's her strength, and she's left-handed."

"I didnt want to make a parade or do any technical crazy stuff. Keep it simple and dont look at the other style, its their thing to get you distracted. I had to stay simple, concentrate and wait on the right moment."

Halls says her style is based around distance and tempo. "I've always had a good feeling for that," she said.

"The bout was pretty close, really close and it could have gone either way at various points."

"Sozanska wanted to take the blade a lot to gain confidence, and I was trying to take that away."

Sozanska moves on to the semifinals, against the No. 1 seeded Sonja Tol.

Duplitzer dispatches Noam in quarters, faces Heidemann next

23 May 2010 - By Andrew Hendry, Gemma Noon, Ksenia Kozlova

Fifth seed German Imke Duplitzer kept her 2010 ALG Challenge title hopes alive after defeating Israel's Noam Mills in their quarter final match

The four time Olympian was in good form despite a 4am start, leading the match from beginning to end.

Mills didn't make it easy for the Olympic silver medalist,however, pushing Duplitzer throughout the opening half of the bout to trail 8-6.

But Duplitzer found her form in the back end and stifled Mills' attacks to stretch out to a 14-8 lead before a double touch sealed victory for the former professional soldier.

"In the beginning we were both a bit frightened. She initiated to touch but I managed to push her back," Duplitzer said.

Mills said afterwards that she could have performed better.

"Imke is very experienced and it was always going to be a difficult bout with her. This competition was good preparation for the Montreal Grand Prix next week which is more important for me," Israel's sole representative at the competition said.

Six time German national champion Duplitzer will come up against number one seed Britta Heidemann in an all-German semi-final, and may carry a mental edge over the Olympic gold medalist, having recently defeated her compatriot in the final of the 2010 German Championships in April.

Heidemann had a thrilling 11-3 win against Hong Kong's Chui Ling Yeung in her quarter final match.

Scoring was slow to start, as both fencers remained on the offensive.Neither Heidemann nor Yeung was willing to take too many chances, and Heidemann was rewarded for her patience with the first point of the bout.

But after their first break the fencers commenced play re-energised, and Heidemann won five more points before Yeung was able to reply, edging Heinemann into a corner and depriving her of space.

Heidemann increased her lead but Yeung was unable to catch up.In the closing minutes Yeung threw caution to the wind and ran at Heidemann twice,but Heidemann scored again.

"It was a good match; I was in control, patient and making points when the time came," Heidemann said.

Sonja Tol from the Netherlands and German Monika Sozanska will face off in the other semi-final.

Duplitzer too good for Mihailescu

23 May 2010 - By David Fanner

It was a study of contrasts in the Direct Elimination contest between Imke Duplitzer from Germany and Ioana Mihailescu of Australia on the second day of the 2010 ALG Challenge at PCYC Marrickville.

Duplitzer will move on to the quarterfinals after taking 15-5 victory over the younger Australian.

The German used her height advantage to play an efficient defensive game, waiting for Mihailescu to attack and set the pace before sending back lightning quick riposts.

Mihailescu fought well, but was outplayed by Duplitzer's precision.

"It was really challenging. She was so quick, so good and so accurate," said Mihailescu.

The bout was all the more impressive for Duplitzer after a less than ideal preparation.

"It was a tough bout, as Im still jet-lagged and it feels like two in the morning," she said.

With a little rest before the next bout, Duplitzer hopes to make to at least make it to the final four.

Tol continues march towards ALG Challenge crown

23 May 2010 - By Andy Pickering

Sonja Tol continued her march towards the title at the 2010 ALG Challenge with a 15-8 victory over Australia's Abigail Nutt in their Direct Elimination match on SUnday.

The Dutch fencer's tall, rangy style was too difficult for opponent who struggled to adapt her style from the first minute and found herself 6-0 down.

But Nutt proved she was a tough one to crack and clawed her way back into the bout at 10-6 before Tol's experience proved too much.

"I fenced her [Nutt] in training this week so I think that helped me although training is never a definite indicator of anything," Tol said.

She now goes on to face either Japan's Ayaka Shimookawa or Ricarda Multererher of Germany in the quarter-finals.

"I've never fought either of them so it's difficult to say that I'd choose anyone in particular. Hoping doesn't get you anywhere anyway so I'll just watch them and try to see what I am up against," she added.

Heidemann cruises to next round

23 May 2010 - By Andrew Hendry

Current Olympic champion, Germany's Britta Heidemann cruised through her opening bout at the 2010 ALG Challenge Cup, defeating New Zealand's Jennifer Jackson 15-9 on Sunday.

Jackson put up a solid fight in the opening half of the duel, trading numerous touche double (double touches) with the top-seeded fencer to bring the tightly fought match to a score of 10-8.

But Heidemann, in her first duel of the tournament, shifted up a gear in the back end of the match and took control to run away with a fifteen hit to nine victory. 

"It was a bit hard to get into the competition, we have been travelling for two weeks so there hasn't been many chances for training," Heidemann said after the bout.

"But I am happy (with my performance), it was totally alright."

Jackson, who had defeated compatriot Katherine Taylor to setup a bout with the reigning Olympic champ, offered a simple explanation for her defeat.

"It's Britta Heidemann," she said.

Heidemann said her fellow German teammates and other european fencers will likely offer the toughest resistance on the road to the final.

Australia's Diana Sher will take on the Heidemann in the next round.

Day Two Women's Direct Elimination Flash Quotes

23 May 2010


"I am nervous but determined at the same time - it's a two-way thing. I've pretty much to go out there and give it my best and make less mistakes than I normally would. She's the best athlete I've ever come up against an I'm very lucky to have the oppurtunity to have a bout with her."

Angela DARBY (AUS) following her loss to Ioana MIHAILESCU (AUS):

"I'm from pentathlon, so it doesn't matter the result, but it was good. My coach wouldn't travel overseas, but it was good for practice."

LIU Ju-Wei (Nancy) (NZL) on fencing against SOZANSKA Monika (GER):

"I don't know her. It will surely be a very mental game because she has a very high ranking. I'll have to work extra hard. I will try to visualize winning to prepare for this bout and not to make the same mistakes."

Sonja TOL (NED) on 15-1 victory over Nicolette Junyi SOH (SIN):

"It was an easy match, she did what I wanted her to do. She is very young so she has plenty of time to improve. As long as she enjoys it, that is what is important."

Nicolette Junyi SOH (SIN) following her defeat to TOL (NED):

"She's the top ranked fencer for this competition so it's very good for me to fence against her. I had a fighting chance and tried my best. It's good for me to fence against her as it's great experience for future competitions."

Sik Lui CHEUNG (HKG) on her win against Alice CUDDY (AUS):

"My footwork was not very good but when I came forward to attack my attack was strong."

Noam MILLS (ISR) on her strengths against Emma RYAN (AUS):

"I had a good parry and patience. Hopefully I can keep it up in the next round."

On her approach to the rest of the tournament:

"I want to fence as well as I can, be patient and hopefully win some more matches.”

Emma RYAN (AUS) on her loss against Noam MILLS (ISR):

"I think I was outclassed. I figured out I could hit her on timing but she altered her game plan too. She’s very quick and her parry is good."

Joanna HALLS (AUS) on her game plan after defeating Kozue HORIKAWA (JPN) 15-9:

"I tried to keep the distance long and push my opponent back. I like to look for the hits."

On her plans for the remainder of the year:

"I'm still new at epee. I have the World Champs coming up in Paris and the Commonwealths later in the year. I'm always looking to develop, hopefully the results will come."

Day Two underway

23 May 2010 - By Event News Service

Day Two of the 2010 ALG Challenge kicked off on Sunday morning with the Direct Elimination round for the women's event.

Singaporean Nicolette Soh Junyi SOH will face Dutchwoman Sonja Tol after beating Australian fencer Leah Tausan.

"It's my first time here and it feels good to come this far. I have never fenced with Toll, because I don't come for the international competitions often. I am definitely nervous but I will go and do my best."

Despite the loss, Tausan says she has enjoyed the competition so far.

"It's tough because there's so many styles and every fencer is different. The way she (SOh) fences is very difficult to be against as I've not had the experience against many international competitors."

Fellow Australian Victoria Wilks also bowed out following on her 15-12 loss to Kozue Horikawa of Japan.

"There were aspects I was pleased with," she said. "I've fenced her (Horikawa) before, there are some things I need to work on. But as long as you see progression or improvement it's alright, and I don't feel like I have gone backwards."

One local fencer who progressed is Emma Ryan after beating compatriot Michelle Hawkings 15-14:

"I enjoyed the bout, Michelle is quite a competitor, a quite player. [Next bout] I expect to be very difficult, extremely hard. Whatever the result I got, it would be fine. [next bout would be against Noam Mills."

For New Zealander Jennifer Jackson, it was a bittersweet victory knocking out fellow Kiwi Katherine Taylor.

"It's a shame it had to be a Kiwi," she said. ""It always would be nicer to come into the event ranked higher, yesterday was not that great but what can you do, you have to work with the draw you get."

Day Two Preview

23 May 2010 - By Andy Pickering and Victor Lee

The second day of the 2010 ALG Challenge gets underway on Sunday at PCYC Marrickville with the Preliminary Direct Elimination for both the women's and men's competition keenly contested.

The top 16-ranked fencers, who were all exempted from Saturday's preliminary round, will also be in action.

Dutchwoman Sonja Tol - who is in the top half of the draw - is starting her ALG Challenge campaign against the winner of the Leah Tausan and Nicolette Soh contest, is already looking ahead to renewing rivalries with Olympic champion Britta Heidemann.

"I hope to meet her (Heidemann) at some stage of the competition, she is a very strong fencer," Tol said.

In the men's competition, last year's Challenge runner-up Jonathan Willis is aiming to go one better.

"I finished second last year and I'll be looking to do the same again but hopefully I'll go one better this time around," he said.

Canadian Hugues Boisvert-Simard is anticipating a close and hardly-fought competititon.

"I am expecting a top four finish," he said. "It's so close and open. Anyone form the top 25 or so places can win this tournament."

No sibling rivalry, says Evelyn Halls

22 May 2010 - By Gemma Noon

For dual Olympian and corporate lawyer Evelyn Halls (AUS), fencing
runs in the family.

Halls is a six-time winner of the Australian National Open Women’s
Epee Championship. She finished 14th at the Athens Olympics in 2004
and made the top 16 at Sydney in 2000.

She started the sport as a ten-year-old at Melbourne’s Methodist
Ladies’ College, with some encouragement from her parents.

"My sister wanted to do it at school and there weren’t enough kids in
the class, so my parents got me into fencing," Halls said.

Halls is ranked 12th going into Sunday’s tableau behind her sister
Johanna, who is in eighth place. Despite competing in the same sport
as her sister, who is also a dual Olympian, Evelyn says there is no
sibling rivalry between them.

"For a long time we were using different weapons. She was in foil and
I was in epee until she switched over after Beijing."

The sport’s focus on individual performance is one of the reasons
Halls loves fencing.

"Fencing is a great individual sport; it’s not team-oriented and it’s

She also enjoys the combination of the mental and the physical that
fencing provides for competitors.

"You feel like you’re in a fight with someone relying on your
strengths and your wits, and it always stays interesting."

Halls married into the sport, and has a child with her husband Peter
Osvarth, a Hungarian-born former fencer who she met as a teenager.
They have been together since 1996.

Halls is semi-retired from fencing; she no longer competes in all the
events on the circuit. At the height of her sporting career she would
train ten times a week, but now has a more relaxed approach.

"I don’t really train much anymore; I just train once a week and rock
up [to competitions] and go," she said.

She is looking forward to the Commonwealth Fencing Championships in
September, which will be held in Melbourne, her hometown and current
city of residence.

Tsui cruises into finals

22 May 2010 - By Bela Moore

Poule 3 of the Mens Epee ALG Challenge Australia 2010 saw Jeremy Shelley (AUS), Yie Ching Tsui (HKG), Wei Wen Lim (SIN) and Hiroki Hagiwara (JPN) proceed to the finals tomorrow.

Tsui dominated the poule winning all six of his bouts with well-timed straight thrusts and hits to the foot.

"I kept a good distance from the player, a good position and then my counter attack today was going well," he said.

Hagiwara did the splits slipping into a lunge and getting up rubbing his hamstring. He staged a promising comeback scoring three successive hits before being edged out by Lim 5 to 4.

Lim dropped his concentration and his arm fencing Shelley who thrusted straight at his chest winning the bout.

"I learnt my lesson. It was a good attack from him. I'd rather make mistakes now than in the direct elimination (matches)."

Benjamin Wilcock fought back against Shelley's dominance before launching an aggressive attack leading to a double hit and a win for Shelley, 5 to 3.

Meanwhile Yu Oku was the toast of Poule Four as he won five of six bouts with the pick being a thrilling 5-4 victory over Ireland's Andrew Fenwick.

Australian quartet Marek Jamrozy, Xavier Hicks, Shannon Reid and Roy Groncki joined Oku and Fenwick in the final 64.

Lichten six from six

22 May 2010 - By Andrew Hendry

American Keith Lichten was the top qualifier at the ALG Challenge Cup 2010 in Marrickville on Saturday, finishing top of Poule One with six wins out of six.

Australian Kristian Radford, Japan’s Yoshiki Hirano and Singaporean Samson Mun Hou Lee also made it through qualifying to reach Sunday’s knockout phase.

Lichten dispatched all who came before him in a convincing opening campaign, and will head into the knockout phase as the top qualifier behind the sixteen seeded fencers.

"It was a lot of fun, there was some sharp fencing from everybody," Lichten said.

"We don’t see a lot of Australian and Singaporean fencers (in the US) so it’s great to come up against people that can show you your mistakes."

Lichten lost against Portugese fencer Joaquim Videira here two years ago, and says he would relish a shot at a rematch on Sunday against the tournament’s number two seed.

"We’ll see what happens on Sunday. I’ll fence hard, see if I get through to the finals and then who knows what could happen," he said.

Lichten is paired with New Zealand’s William Bishop in the knockout phase, while Hirano will meet Frenchman Nicolas Touyet. Lee will face off with Japan’s Yu Oku.

Australia’s Kristian Radford was the best performing local of the group, racking up three victories out of three before succumbing to Lichten, Lee and Hirano – who all qualified – in his final three bouts.

"I felt alright today, I was happy to beat the Australians. I felt I fenced well because I didn’t do very well here last year," Radford said.

"I need to really keep my concentration going, after long exchanges it’s hard to keep total focus and that’s where I lost a few hits."

Radford revealed that he would love the chance to fence against any of the internationals on Sunday, particularly Swiss epeeist Max Heinzer.

"He’s awesome to watch, it would be a great opportunity to fence against internationals like him."

Radford is paired with fellow Aussie James Lewis for Sunday’s knockout phase.

Australia’s Michael Nelson and Oscar Hargreaves managed one victory each in Poule One, while Justin Bewsher scored two wins, but it wasn’t enough to get the local lads into the next phase of the competition.

Sher dominant in Poule 3

22 May 2010 - By Gemma Noon

Australian Diana Sher won all six of her matches in Poule 3 on the opening day of the 2010 ALG Challenge Australia on Saturday to book her place in the finals the following day.

She had to negotiate matches against three of her compatriots, a Singaporean, a New Zealander and a fencer from Hong Kong.

"Every opponent is at different levels so there’s no single toughest opponent," Sher said. "I approach every bout differently. Most people I’ve fenced before, but for those I haven’t fenced before I have to think on the spot."

Sik Lui Cheung (HKG), Jennifer Jackson (NZL), Emma Ryan (AUS) and Victoria Ann Xiu Yan Lim (SIN) also qualified for the next round.

Sher was on fire from the start, winning her first bout of the day against fellow Australian Julie Seggie in just 31 seconds.

54-year-old Seggie, a veteran fencer who won two matches in the preliminary round, isn’t perturbed by competing against younger

"I like it – they’re often more than half my age, but it makes me lift my level of fitness," she said.

Seggie and countrywoman Angela Dobson-Block were knocked out of the competition.

Fencers will endure longer matches in Sunday’s direct elimination round, as they will have to put 15 points on the scoreboard to win a match, as opposed to Saturday’s five.

Fenwick confident of good showing

22 May 2010 - By Andrew Pickering

Ahead of the ALG Challenge Australia 2010, Andrew Fenwick is aiming to repeat his top 16 finish from this event last year but, regardless of results, is just happy to have made it to Sydney.

The Irishman's flight looked set to be cancelled after volcano Eyjafjallajokull shut down all the airports in his homeland but hours before he was due to leave on Wednesday, the ban was lifted.

It's not the first time his plans have been wrecked by the Icelandic volcano either - his flight home from the World Cup meet in Paris this year was cancelled.

But now that he's made it here the 23-year-old is trying to put his travel problems behind him and instead look ahead to the weekend's competition in Australia.

"It's been a bit of a disappointing start to the season but I got a top 16 in Iran [in a World Cup meeting] and I'm confident I can do the same here," he said.

Wilson overcomes injury to progress to finals

22 May 2010 - By Bela Moore

Five of the six fencers from Poule Two of the ALG Challenge Australia 2010 managed to fight their way to the finals tomorrow with local fencer Seri Wilson especially impressive.

Wilson had agitated a hamstring injury sustained on tour earlier this year in her first bout against compatriot Sarah Macfarlane.

With Macfarlane in front, two successive hits from Wilson evened the score before a double hit and a direct thrust to the chest won the match for the latter.

"This is my first competition back (following the injury)," Wilson said. "It enhanced my game because I have to use my head more. A disability can be used as an advantage."

Singaporean Nicolette Junyi Soh made a good start against New Zealand's Liu Ju-Wei and Macfarlane before being undone by Wilson 5 to 1.

"I came here without a lot of expectations because it's a senior competition and I'm still a junior so I just tell myself to do my best - no expectations."

Australia's Caryl Oliver was plagued by weaponry problems accumulating two point scoring fouls before the bouts had begun.

Macfarlane pulled through in her bouts against Wilson, Darby and Liu with only one strike separating the fencers in each of the three bouts.

"I just got a new coach a few months ago and have been learning more about the psychology behind it, the tactics and techniques." she said.

"I need to work on my game plan a little bit more I think."

Day 1 Preview

22 May 2010 - By Event News Service

The opening day of the 2010 ALG Challenge on Saturday saw some of the world's best fencers in action against Australia's top epeeists at the PCYC Marrickville.

The women's preliminary round was the first to get underway with 33 from the 49 fencers in the field divided into 5 poules with the top 16 ranked fencers  - including reigning Olympic champion Britta Heidemman - receiving exemptions into the next round.

In the men's preliminary round scheduled to start at 4pm, 56 out of the 72 epeeists in the competition had been divided into eight poules of seven fencers each, with the top 16 ranked fencers receiving exemptions into the following round.

There is a strong Australian presence in the women's competition with Joanna and Evelyn Halls, Dianna Gu, Sarah Osvath, Kathryn Woodward and Catherine Mackay all ranked in the top 16.

In the men's field, 32-year-old Ross Austen is the highest seeded Australian in the field with compatriot Zaccaria Casagrande just outside the top 16.

Bittersweet day for young Australians

22 May 2010 - By Andrew Hendry

Two of the youngest Australian female fencers at the Challenge Australia 2010 World Cup enjoyed bittersweet results in the preliminary round on Saturday at PCYC Marrickville.

17-year-old Malindi Haggett scored three victories in her international debut, which was enough to see her through to the knockout stage on Sunday where she will take on compatriot Sarah McFarlane.

"My legs were a bit slow to start but I'm getting more confidence with each bout. I like fencing people a lot better than me because there is nothing to lose and obviously it's a great experience," Haggett said.

Fellow youngster Laura Kent came away with two victories and four defeats, which wasnt enough to see her through to the next stage, but an impressive feat for a 19-year-old competing at her first international tournament.

"I've never competed in anything this big before, so to come away with two victories as an intermediate fencer is pretty good," Kent said after her final bout in Poule One.

"The main reason I did this was for the experience, every country and every coach has their own style of fencing. Some are faster, some are stronger, so its good to learn to defend against other techniques and styles."

Aussie veterans Victoria Wilks and Rowena Newcombe were both impressed with the performance of their younger compatriots, citing the invaluable experience competing against the worlds best will bring them.

"They don't look scared, they are trying to work out their opponents, they are thinking, this is great experience for them," Wilks said.

Newcombe said it was important for the young girls not to feel too much pressure in terms of achieving results.

"They have a good future ahead of them," she said. "They just have to have courage and give it their best. As long as you show courage it doesn't matter whether you win or lose, but that youve given it a shot and thats what fencing is about."

Nutt crams in training for Challenge

22 May 2010 - By David Fanner

Poule Five of the preliminary round in the women's competition at the 2010 ALG Challenge Australia 2010 took on a distinct ANZAC flavour, with all competitors, apart from New Zealander, Katherine Taylor, representing the host country.

Abigail Nutt, from Belrose, Sydney showed impressive skills and was the clear victor coming out of the round robin, including a down-to-the-wire 5-4 decision over speedy Ioana Mihailescu.

Nutt put her performance down to an unusual training schedule, for her.

"I've been training three nights a week, which good for me.  I've got young kids at home so usually I'm a crammer, trying to get as much training in just before the competition, cram it all in. But I actually practiced regularly this time."

Despite the antipodean feel of this poule, Nutt and fellow Australian fencers Michelle Hawkins and Jane Menary are looking forward to tomorrow, when they will get a chance to test their skills against international competitors in the finals.

Hawkins, from Manly West, Brisbane has only recently finished university, enjoys the different styles that international competition brings in.

"It's so expensive for Australians to go overseas, so it's great to have them come here.  Challenge Australia is one of my chances to be able to at least see other international fencers, and maybe fence against them."

Jane Menary, from Hazelwood Park in Adelaide, puts it more plainly.

"There's a small pool of fencers in Australia. Everyone knows pretty much everyone else and this doesn't give us the same competitive edge that the Europeans get.

When you get a competition like this, an FIE grade competition with lots of internationals, it brings a whole other level of fencing to Australia."

Of the six competitors in Poule Five, Nutt, Hawkins, Taylor and Mihailescu have made it through to tomorrow's finals.

Young Aussies impress in Poule One

22 May 2010 - By Andrew Hendry

Poule One of the ALG Challenge saw Australia’s Victoria Wilks, Rowena Newcombe and Malindi Haggett qualify for Sunday’s knockout round, along with the USA’s Tina Thorburn and Kozue Horikawa from Japan.

Thorburn qualified strongest in the pool, in sixth position, thanks to four victories and two narrow 5-4 defeats.

"Because I fence on the Australian circuit I fence against a lot of locals and don’t have as much experience against the internationals, plus early on I wasn’t as zoned in," Thorburn said of her defeat against Lim and Horikawa.

"I’d like to go through to tomorrow and carry on my performance in the pools, it’s not always easy to carry over your level of performance to the next day."

Newcombe qualified behind Thorburn in seventh position, also winning four bouts and narrowly losing two others, including a 5-4 loss against the American.

"(At 4-4) I was going for a planned attack to the head that I thought would surprise her, but she was too quick. It was close, very close,” Newcombe said after the bout against Thorburn.

"It’s very much a mixed result for me. Against the internationals I felt I fenced my best, but against the Aussies possibly because I know how they fence I tried to predict their moves rather than letting the fencing flow."

Aussie youngster Haggett also made it through courtesy of victories against experienced compatriot Wilks, and internationals Lim and Horikawa in her what is her first open international.

"My legs were a bit slow to start with but I’m getting more confidence with each bout. I like fencing people a lot better than me, there’s nothing to lose and obviously it’s great experience for me," said the 17-year-old, who began fencing in 2005.

Haggett will meet Sarah McFarlane in the knockout round on Sunday, while Harikawa will take on Wilks with the winner of that bout to fight top-ranked Aussie Joanna Halls.

Favourites at a Glance

21 May 2010

Men’s Event


World Cup 2010 (top 5 finishes only): Tied 3rd (Berne).

He is a 24-year-old who has been professional since 2002/2003 season after being world junior number one. He competed in the Beijing Olympics finishing in 23rd and his brother Francisco also competes here.


World Cup 2010: 5th (Kish Island), 2nd (Lisbon).

This 28-year-old has slowly risen up the rankings in the last four years- from 188th in 2006/2007 to 12th currently. 2008 Pan Am gold medallist.


World Cup 2010: Tied 3rd (Kish Island).

Had pretty good start to season with top 15 finishes in three WC events. One of few competitors who uses French grip as opposed to pistol grip which means he has a different handle to his sword. Works as an electronic engineer. Age: 26.


World Cup 2010: 5th (Lisbon), 5th (Paris).

31-year-old who won this competition last year and also finished 9th in the Beijing Olympics.


World Cup 2010: 1st (Lisbon).

23-year-old who used to compete in foil as well as epee. National champion in 2008.


The 28-year-old has a highest finish of 11th this year in Berne in Feb.


World Cup 2010: 1st (Kish Island), 2nd (Lisbon), 5th (Tallin)

29-year-old who finished 2nd in this event last year.  Trained as an accountant. He is part of a 2012 Olympic Pathway Programme. He became the first Brit for 26 years to win a World Cup epee event when he won in Germany in 2007.


Highest finish of 13th this season in Berne in Feb. Competed in Athens Olympics finishing 22nd. Age: 29.


27-year-old Slovenian-born Canadian.

Important dates

Asian Championships – Seoul – 8th July 2010

European Championships – Leipzig – 16th July 2010

Central American championships – Mayaguez – 18 July 2010

Pan-American Championships – San Jose – 4th August 2010

African Championships – 25th September 2010

Commonwealth Games – Doha - 3rd October 2010

World Championships – Paris - 5th  November 2010

Asian Games – Guangzhou - 12 November 2010.

Women’s Event

Britta Heidemann (GER)  - FEI Rank: 1

2009 European champion indiv., 2008 Olympic gold medal indiv., World Champion 2007 indiv.

World Cup 2010 victories in Grand Prix St. Maur/Paris and Barcelona indiv.

Recently lost 2010 German Championship final to Imke Duplitzer in April.

World Cup 2002 victory in Sydney.

Top FEI ranked fencer coming into Challenge Australia.

Best World Cup finish for 09/10 – 1st in Barcelona 13.02.2010.

Sonja Tol (NED) FEI Rank: 9

2009 World Fencing Championships Antalya, bronze medallist.

24th at Athens Olympics.

Six time Dutch champion.

Professional Soldier (Navy).

Best World Cup finish for 09/10 – 2nd Florina 13.03.10, 9th Rome 05.02.10.

Monika Sozanska (GER) FEI Rank: 13.

2009 German Championship silver medal.

2009 World Cup Tauberbischofsheim and Havana Bronze medals.

2007 Sydney World Cup Bronze, 2005 Sydney World Cup Silver.

Most recently lost to Imke Duplitzer in semi final of 2010 German Championship indiv.

Best world cup finish for 09/10 – 9th Lobnya 20.03.10.

Imke Duplitzer (GER) FEI Rank: 32

Veteran/experienced fencer: has participated at four Olympic Games.

Beat both Sozanska and Heidemann to win gold at 2010 German Championships in April.

Often portrayed as enemy/rival of Heidemann but Imke denies this.

Silver medal team Athens Olympics 2004, European Champion 1999, 6 time National Champion.

Professional soldier, human rights activist. Outspoken critic of Chinese regime before the Beijing Olympic Games.

Best world cup finish for 09/10 – 3rd Rome 05.02.10.

Noam Mills (ISR) FEI Rank: 18

4 time Israel senior fencing champion, three time junior Israel champion, 2006 junior world cup champion, 2009 European championships placed 7th. Finished 7th at 2009 Euro championships in Bulgaria

Best world cup finish for 09/10 – 20th in Barcelona 13.02.10 and Germany 06.03.10.

Multerer Ricarda (Ger) FEI Rank: 49

German young gun, only 20, much younger than Heidemann, Duplitzer and Sozanska.

Beaten Sabrina Lui.

2009 German Junior Champion.

Best World cup finish for 09/10 – 8th Moscow 20.03.10.

Joanna Halls (Aus) FEI Rank: 70

Dual Olympian (2000 and 2008 – finished 35th in Beijing pushing her FEI ranking to career high 45).

Changed from foil to epee after Beijing Olympics - wants to qualify for London 2012 epee.

17th year in the Australian and international fencing community.

2008/09 World Fencing Championships, Antalya, 81st.

Has previously lost to Duplitzer and Cheung Sik Lui,

Heading to Commonwealth fencing champs in Melbourne in September.

Best World Cup finish for 09/10 – 19th Florina 13.03.10, 26th Moscow 20.03.10

Evelyn Halls (AUS) FEI Rank: 155

Dual Olympian (Finished 14th at Athens 2004, Top 16 Sydney 2000)

2008 and 2009 Australian National open women’s epee champ (6 times winner in total).

Three third-place finishes at World Cup events in 2000.

Heading to Commonwealth fencing champs in Melbourne in September.

Yeung Chui Ling (HKG) FEI Rank: 75

2006 Asian Games Bronze medallist, 23rd at Beijing Olympics.

Has previously beaten Joanna Halls.

Fencing World Cup - Competition Wide Open

21 May 2010

SYDNEY - The LIMARDO brothers (VEN) will look to hold off a strong American contingent at the 2010 ALG Challenge Australia event in Sydney this weekend.

Ruben LIMARDO (ranked third in the world in the epee discipline) is the highest ranked competitor in the field.

His younger brother Francisco (ranked 52nd) is the 11th seed in the competition.

Both competed for Venezuela in the men’s team epee event at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games with fellow ALG Challenge participant Silvio FERNANDEZ (ranked 14th).

The American contingent at the event, led by Weston KELSEY (ranked 20th) and Cody MATTERN (ranked 29th), boasts six of the top 100 ranked epee fencers in the world.

No other country has more than three of the top 100 competing in the event, with Venezuela and Japan both sending that number.

Host country Australia will be represented by 29 competitors, with Victoria’s Ross AUSTEN (ranked 89th) leading the way.

AUSTEN is just one of several former Australian Men’s Epee National Champions at the event.

Fellow countrymen Zaccaria CASAGRANDE (ranked 107th) , William DOLLEY (ranked 207th ) as well as Luc CARTILLIER and Scott ARNOLD have also had their name inscribed on the Julius Pollack Shield and will be competing this weekend.

The preliminary round of the men’s event starts Saturday at 16:00 at the PCYC in Marrickville.


© 2010 Harriet Jordan
Last updated 23 May, 2010
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