Fast-growing fencing event is a big hit in Chichester

The elite fencers at the Chichester tournament
The elite fencers at the Chichester tournament

Westbourne House School in Chichester hosted an event that’s fast becoming one of the biggest fencing competitions for miles.

More than 100 children entered a number of events in age groups from under-six to under-17.

The event separates elite fencers – those who have fenced in the British or English championships – into their own category, allowing foilists less experienced in competition a chance to really shine. And shine they did.

These children all have a fencing coach in common – Sharon Blackman – and her input was clearly visible in the quality of the footwork and bladework of even the youngest fencers.

The importance of good footwork is rated so highly there is a style trophy for every category outside the elite events.

The under-six event was won by Florence Madden in her first competition. She ofought her way through a field of boys to take the trophy in an exciting final against Benjamin Deans, who claimed second place.

Jack Passet and Seth Oglethorpe were joint third with Oscar Hamilton winning the coveted ‘most stylish’ trophy – proving you can still be a winner by showing excellence in your technique.

The under-eight event was another close-run competition. Albert Solazzo took first place with Samuel Russell second and Henry Ball and Finlay Jackson joint third. Sebastian Paterson was named most stylish for his wonderful footwork.

The under-tens was a thrilling competition, intensely fought right to the end. Robert Moore and Amberley Warton were third but after a nail-biting final, Ben Gray emerged the triumphant champion leaving Ethan Mansfield a worthy second. Noah Mazrani was the unanimous winner of the most stylish trophy.

The 13-and-under foil saw Callum Budd and Rhianna Batchelor in third place. A super close final between Ben Shepherd and Kasjan Paszkowski resulted in a victory for Paszkowski. Shepherd presented the trophy, acknowledging defeat and friendship in an outstanding display of sportsmanship. If there had been a prize for etiquette Shepherd would have taken it.

The winner of the 13-and-under style trophy was Alfie Whitchurch.

The elite fencers, many of whom had been refereeing the younger children since early morning, competed in their own events: elite foil, epee and sabre. Two fencers, Robin Elliot and Archie Evans, competed in all three weapons – no easy task when the competitions were running concurrently.

Despite this, Evans managed to take second place in the sabre and the epee and Elliot proved himself a master at arms taking first place in every single weapon.

Special mention must also be given to Tara Sallaba, not only one of the youngest to compete in the elite foil event but also the only girl. She was absolutely devastating and hers was probably the outstanding performance of the day as she powered her way through the field with seeming ease to come a very close second to Elliott. It was a fantastic competition with some truly excellent fencing.

Elite results: Sabre: 1 Robin Elliot, 2 Archie Evans, 3 Matthew Bradshaw, 4 Connor De Trafford 5 Luca Nutt, 6 Freya Jenkins, 7 Henry Bedford. Epee:

1 Robin Elliot, 2 Archie Evans, 3 Ben Warton, 4 Charlotte Beadle, 5 Chloe Wildesmith, 6 Kasjan Paszkowski. Foil: 1 Robin Elliot, 2 Tara Sallaba, 3 Max Hooper, 4 Harry Gray, 5 Tom Raymond-Wells, 6 Archie Evans, 7 Oscar Pickering.