ZFW Fencing Club members maintain training focus as coach shares videos
PUBLISHED: 13:00 26 March 2020
Athletes at North London’s ZFW Fencing Club are determined to fight their way through the coronavirus pandemic.
With club operations currently suspended, ZFW founder and head coach Ziemek Wojciechowski is encouraging his fencers to train at home with a series of motivational and instructional WhatsApp videos.
“We were convinced that suspending ZFW was the only sensible solution to the rapidly changing epidemic,” Wojciechowski wrote to members before the government restricted social and sporting activities.
Club operations are under constant review, but the global health emergency hasn’t scuppered the aspirations of ZFW’s fencing community and Wojciechowski’s up-and-coming athletes are determined to remain in top form for when competitions resume.
Olivia White joined ZFW at the age of five, making her among the club’s youngest members at the time, and is using the competitive pause to review her past performance and improve her skills.
The nine-year-old North London student says she looks at footwork and stretching as a way of breaking up schoolwork and distance learning.
Senior fencer and university student Dominic de Almeida has been inventive, evolving a small outdoor space into a workout zone and loading his heaviest university texts into two backpacks. Hung either end of a broom, he says they make the perfect barbell.
Many ZFW high-performance athletes represent Great Britain internationally at cadet (under-17), junior (under-20) and senior levels, as British Fencing, the sport’s governing body, puts domestic competition on hold, with decisions on when to resume guided by government advice.
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International events have been cancelled and debate swirls about the viability of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
ZFW Junior Matthew Abrahams keeps limber with footwork in his front hall and lunges in the kitchen, with the former Highgate School pupil having qualified to represent Great Britain at the Junior World Championships.
Abrahams was due to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah, in April, along with clubmates Cameron Evans and Yasmin Campbell, but the championships have been delayed with no new date set.
Amelie Tsang qualified for the World Championships in the cadet grouping, along with clubmate Carolina Stutchbury, and is also doing lunges in her lounge, to the bemusement of her family.
Stutchbury is taking aim at a boxing dummy clad as a fencing opponent, while others are sparring with siblings or leaping in the living room, posting photos on the club’s social media streams.
Non-fencers are joining in the moves, including many of the athletes’ parents, and Sophie Abrahams, a former student at Channing School in Highgate, is keeping her British Fencing refereeing skills sharp by reviewing fast fights and difficult-to-determine decisions through online video channels.
“Keep practicing,” Wojciechowski urges his athletes by video, inviting them to remember their one-to-one lessons and to recreate scenarios in their homes.
Replies from members include ‘wonderfully uplifting, inspiring and encouraging’, ‘perfect exercise for a Saturday morning’, and to 10-time Olympian Wojciechowski, as fencer and coach, ‘your love of fencing is truly inspiring, missing your positive vibe, stay safe and fence safe’.
*ZFW is run by Olympic Coach Ziemek Wojciechowski with a team of dedicated experts. The club aims to boost the standard of fencing in Britain by providing a centre of excellence for elite fencers training for Olympic, international and national teams.
It also provides a learning programme with an emphasis on youngsters. ZFW operates from various venues in North London and elsewhere around the capital. For further details, visit zfw-fencing.co.uk.
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