European fencing stars compete at Camden International tournament in Olympic Park
PUBLISHED: 15:12 28 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:12 28 January 2014
Over 200 of Europe's top young fencers converged on the Copper Box Arena in the Olympic Park on Saturday to compete in the prestigious GLL Camden International cadet sabre tournament.
The Under-17 competition, which is in its eighth year, is organised by Camden Fencing Club and is a ranking tournament on the European Fencing Federation circuit.
It is also the final ranking event on the British Fencing circuit for those who are attempting to qualify for the World Championships – and it attracted 204 fencers from 18 countries.
France sent their strongest national squad, and Baptiste Dubarry won the boys’ individual event, defeating his countryman Jean-Philippe Patrice in the final.
The bronze medallists were Eduardo Ramunno (Italy) and Raphael van Hofflen (France), while the best British result was Josh Maxwell, from Truro, who came fifth.
Camden Fencing Club have dominated the British Rankings and have had a major representation in the national teams in recent years.
They were not as strong as usual this time but Eden Amsalem, who lives in Tufnell Park and attends University College School, finished a creditable 18th - the third best British result.
Meanwhile, Camden’s Achilles Bergne came 46th and Christian Lindsay was 88th out of the 123 entrants in the boys’ competition.
The girls’ individual event threw up a surprise as Japan’s Misaki Emura beat France’s Caroline Queroli 15-14 on the final hit, while Theodora Goudoura (Greece) and Lucia Lucarini (Italy) took bronze medals.
The best British result came from 12th-placed Kerry Plunkett, while the Camden duo of Shreya Anil and Gabrielle Black were 28th and 80th respectively out of 81 fencers.
The gala finals on Saturday included a programme provided by Camden Music, including the borough youth choir, a saxophone ensemble and Cappella Choir from Camden School for Girls.
Councillor Tulip Siddiq – Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the seat of Hampstead and Kilburn in the 2015 national election – presented the medals and hosted the civic reception.
Councillors Nasim Ali and Jill Fraser also attended, alongside representatives from British Fencing and GLL, who sponsor Camden Fencing Club and the tournament and also now manage the Copper Box Arena, offering the venue for the competition.
The team events were held the following day at the new Leon Paul Centre – a dedicated facility in Hendon that opened in September.
A leading manufacturer of fencing equipment, Leon Paul also sponsor both the club and the tournament – and they provided the equipment for the first day of the tournament in addition to the use of their facility.
The venue, which offers 12 Olympic-sized pistes, was being used for team events for the first time for the team events.
France’s B team defeated France’s A side in the final of the men’s event, with Britain’s A string finishing third after losing 45-44 to France A in the semi-finals.
The women’s event was won by France A, who defeated Japan in the final, while Greece finished third.
Ronald Velden, the chairman of Camden Fencing Club and the organiser of the tournament, will be stepping down at the end of this season – and he is full of praise for those who helped him.
The Highgate resident said: “It’s very important for the borough that there are good relations with the number of agencies who supported this tournament.
“GLL are a mutual not-for-profit organisation and, through their foundation, they recognise the importance of community sport. Their foundation supports a large number of aspiring athletes from many different sports, including those living in Camden.
“We had other sponsors like British Fencing, and local businesses such as Continental Clothing and Fifth Column. The local authority also provided support for the tournament, as they have done in recent years. They made a contribution towards the cost of bringing in top-quality referees and providing a mini-bus service for the event.
“This year’s event was a huge success and it demonstrates what can be achieved with good planning and organisation but, above all, working with our sponsors and of course the European Fencing Federation. This is now a prestigious sporting event for the borough and it should be cherished.”