Stutchbury medals lead way for ZFW fencers at World Championships
- Credit: ZFW
Hampstead’s ZFW Fencing Club saw Carolina Stutchbury’s two medals highlightg impressive performances from members in the British team at the World Junior & Cadet Championships in Dubai.
Stutchbury, who lives in America where she trains with coach Dmitiri Romankov, works with ZFW when in the UK for national training or competition and won bronze in the junior (under-20) foil.
She beat current US collegiate champion Maia Weintraub in the first round of direct elimination before losing to Japan’s Yuzuha Takeyama 15-14 in the semi-finals.
Stutchbury then won silver in the cadet (under-17) foil, losing in the final to Canada’s Jessica Guo, who is ranked 16th in the world in the senior division and competed at the Tokyo Olympics. Guo was also the 2021 cadet world champion.
"Carolina is now the second-ranked junior fencer in the world with these results, just behind Lauren Scruggs of the United States," said ZFW's head coach and founder Ziemek Wojciechowski.
"It has been a great six weeks for her, with the World Championship medals following her impressive European junior title last month. It's fantastic to see her build on that win in Serbia in a breakthrough year for her."
David Sosnov, who won silver for Britain in the cadet team competition in Serbia last month, also impressed at his first World Championships to finish seventh in the cadets and eighth in the junior division, where all of those ranked above him were at least two years older than the 15-year-old.
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"Some superb results from David," added Wojciechowski. "It is just rewards for some of the hard work he has been putting in. I’m really impressed with his commitment to keep getting better and I am convinced he has a bright future ahead of him."
David Williams finished 66th after losing a closely fought elimination match 15-14, while Amelie Tsang, 15, impressed at her first World Championships to place 13th in the cadet division, losing 15-12 to Israel's Gili Kuritzky.
Tsang would have faced Stutchbury in the quarter-finals had she won that last-16 bout.
Teagan Williams-Stewart finished 36th in the junior division after losing to South Korea’s Hong Sien - a former World Championship silver medalist – in the second round of direct elimination.
"I can't say enough about Amelie and Teagan, who are showing again and again the promise of women's foil fencing in Britain at the moment," said Wojciechowski.
"They joined Carolina in the junior team competition, where they had the misfortune of facing eventual runners-up Italy in the first round.
"Amelie was particularly impressive beating Irene Bertini, the 20th-ranked junior in the world, and drawing with Carlotta Ferrari, who is fourth! So, she really showed how much talent she has."
Wojciechowski was particularly pleased to see all four club members show what they were capable of, saying it was testament to their willingness to recognise the effort of their families, coaches, friends and clubmates in getting them to the UAE.
"International fencing is not cheap. You need to travel extensively to get the experience you need to be competitive at this level," he said.
"We managed to do some fundraising for the three cadets and got a terrific response from many generous donors and raised just over £4,000 for the six GB cadet team members which includes Salle Holyrood's Jaimie Cook and Callum Penman as well as Fighting Fit"s Megan Elliot that helped offset some of their travel costs.
"We can’t thank those people enough."
There are still international tournaments to train for over the summer, but Wojciechowski is already thinking about the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
"It’s very hard to qualify for the Olympics. You can’t just set a qualifying time and hope you get nominated by your national federation and then picked by the Olympic Committee," he said.
"There are normally only between 32 and 36 spots in each discipline at the Games, so you have a lot of very talented fencers miss out."
The Olympic tournament has 24 spots set aside for the best three fencers for the eight countries that qualify for the team competitions. There are then six spots for the next best ranked fencers who are not already part of a qualified team.
The remaining spots are then determined by regional quotas – for example the two best fencers in Europe not already qualified - and then zonal qualifying tournaments, which act as a last chance for the athletes.
"As an individual it's really important you build up your ranking points and try to get into the top 40 or so places in the world," said Wojciechowski.
"It's also quite important we continue to build our depth to try and get a British team qualified. There are signst we are doing that in women's foil, with Carolina, Teagan and Amelie all in the top four in the senior rankings.
"Yasmin Campbell is also ranked seventh and Emily Goodchild is 10th, so we already have the makings of a British women’s foil team at the club!"
Wojciechowski pointed out that it typically cost thousands of pounds each year for the fencers to make them competitive at a world level, so the club would shortly embark on another round of fundraising initiatives to help defray some of the costs.
"Of course, any sponsors or companies willing to help out with equipment or travel will also be warmly welcomed," he added.