Some of the world’s top swordswomen will show off their skills this weekend when South Africa hosts the first ever women’s eacutepeacutee World Cup in Boksburg, Gauteng.
More than 170 fencers from 32 countries and six continents will be go point to point over three days of cut and thrust competition with qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympics making competition that much more intense.
A concerted drive by the Fencing Federation of South Africa (FFSA) has seen much development in the sport around the country, with new athletes being discovered in Soweto, Mamelodi and Langa. This has seen fencing appealing to a whole new generation of youngsters and bringing an influx of talent.
The eacutepeacutee category (the other two are foil and sabre) has seen the most South African success in recent years with Juliana Barrett and Sello Maduma to the fore.
Barrett won bronze at the Commonwealth Fencing Championships in Largs, Scotland late last year as well as silver in the London International Open, while Maduma, a 2008 Olympian, is going all out to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
The FFSA has been taking on a more prominent role in the FIE, with President, Novak Perovic, sitting on the FIE Executive Committee and Referee Commission, and Gauteng’s own Gennady Tyshler, Director of Tyshler Fencing School in Randburg, elected President of the FIE Coaches’ Council last July. Says Tyshler of the World Cup, ‘this kind of exposure is essential for our fencers if South Africa is to be ready to take its place on the world stage.’
Meanwhile, sending more of our coaches for additional training overseas to broaden their skillset is another priority on the FFSA agenda.
Top fencing nations, including Hungary, China, Romania, Korea, Germany, Ukraine, Italy, and the United States, will be facing off at the Birchwood Conference Centre, including London 2012 gold medallist Yana Shemikyana (Ukraine) and Nathalie Moellhausen of Brazil, who took gold at the Pan American Fencing Championships two weeks ago.
Then there is Tunisia’s Sarra Besbes, Africa’s top-ranked female eacutepeacutee fencer, fresh from her win at the Buenos Aires World Cup in February and a definite Olympic medal contender.
Should there be two Africans on the winners’ podium, Tunisia and South Africa are the ones to bet on.
Fencing starts at 9am on all three days (Friday to Sunday) and admission is free.
Source : South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee