If you follow me on Instagram, you'd know that I am very proud of my girls, Nawal and Neve. I share photos of them every chance I can (because let's be honest - they are tweens/teens! Mum taking photos is no longer cool!) and love to celebrate their achievements.
One thing that both Nawal and Neve share is their love and talent for fencing - so I thought I'd tell you a little more about why they love it, how they started and why they keep doing a sport that is completlely different from your "normal" Australian school sports.
The girls first picked up fencing in London where it’s a common sport. It was offered as a school sport at their school (as it’s an indoor sport and can be played even on the dreariest of London days!) and they quickly found their fencing feet!
There are three forms of fencing – Épée, Saber and Foil. Nawal competes in Saber and Épée and Neve competes in Foil and Épée.
The main goal of each of the three forms is the same; to score 15 points (in direct elimination play) or 5 points (in preliminary pool play) on your opponent before they score that number on you. You receive a point each time you score a touch - but those touches look different depending on which style of fencing you're playing.
In Épée, the sword is heavier and has a larger guard (to protect your hands) and touches can only be scored with the point of the blade. Inside the blade is an electrical circuit which can only be completed when you touch your opponent with the tip of the blade. When this happens, the electrical circuit triggers the scoreboard to add a point. In Épée the entire body is a valid target area so it doesn't matter where you touch your opponent.
In Sabre, fencers use more thrusting and cutting action as they try to score points on their opponent. The target area of Sabre is from the bend of the hips (both front and back) to the top of the head. Fencers wear a metallic jacket (called a lamé) which covers this target area so that the scoring machine can register valid touches. Whilst all fencing types see fencers wearing a mask to protect their face, the Sabre mask is different in that it has a metallic covering so that head touches can be registered on the scoring machine. Off-target hits do not register at all on the sabre scoring machine.
In Foil, points can only be scored with the tip of the blade - and only on the torso of your opponent. This means if you were to touch your opponents arms, head or legs it would not be counted as a point but fencing action would be stopped temporarily. When playing Foil, fencers wear a special metallic vest (called a lamé) which covers their torso so that only valid touches register on the scoreboard. You will also see a wire running from the fencer - this is their body cord which connects the foil sword to the wire that is connected to the scoring machine.
Fencing is like playing chess with your body – it’s a serious all body workout and much harder than it looks. It's a sport that combines mental strategy with physical movement and you need to have excellent hand eye coordination.
From Thursday until Sunday Nawal and Neve had the annual Koala Competition and Australian School Competition.
Neve battled the heat of the weekend (under her hot fencing outfit with no airconditioning!) and went on to win Gold in the U11 Épée Australian School Comp, Silver in the U11 Épée International Koala Comp, Bronze in the U11 Girls Foil International Koala Comp, Gold in the U11 Girls Foil Team Comp and Bronze for the International Koala Comp.
Nawal started off the four days of competition strong, winning Bronze in the U13 Girls Épée Team International Koala Comp - but then had to withdraw from her individual bouts due to a torn hamstring. Not wanting to let her team down in the team competition, she fought through the pain to ensure they got a good result. Such a team player!