With several of the club coaches returning to competition after long lay-offs, it proved a baptism of fire against the county’s strongest, over two seeding rounds and the Direct Elimination.
You can find a gallery of images and some short video clips courtesy of David Wilkins over on Google+.
Robin Catling fenced on through illness to take eleventh seed, just in the top third, relying on his unconventional left-handed style to baffle opponents. Quentin Stokes proved accuracy and tactical ability do not go out of fashion to take sixth seed.
The luck of the draw meant the pair met each other in the DE, fighting for a last-eight place – a fast but tidy bout which levelled at 14-all, with Stokes taking the last hit to go through. His run stopped at the quarter-finals, a respectable seventh finish after twenty years out of competition.
It was left to regular competitor Vicki Pritchard, finishing the womens’ pools as top seed, to carry the medal hopes. However, an ambush by visiting Norwegian International Ida Pedersen ended them early: Pedersen had shown little fire in the pools, but became a different fencer in the Womens’ DE to win by eight points. Pritchard came away with a bronze and selection for the Hampshire team for the prestigious Excalibur tournament, the biggest inter-county event in the calendar.
In the Team event, Sway fielded two teams with mixed fortunes. The ‘A’ team of coaches Catling, Pritchard and Stokes (by then fencing on pain-killers) fenced a close relay with the youngsters of Southampton University, including the Latvian International silver medallist of the women’s event.
The ‘B’ team with David Wilkins and newcomers to competition David Baker and Steve Edwards, gave their all against the class entry of Espada ‘A.’ Both teams were stopped there in the knockout format.
The best of the day was the good humour and sportsmanship that carried right through to a late finish. RC