Imperious Imperial strike Fencing gold19/03/2011
Imperial College (pictured below) took the plaudits for a day in which they dominated Friday’s Fencing fixtures. They were victorious in both the Men’s and Women’s BUCS Championships, claiming a stake for themselves at the top of British university fencing.
All of the Championship level semi-finals took place simultaneously in the indoor sports hall at the English Institute of Sport (EIS). Quickly, Imperial showed their form, taking Foil category early leads against Edinburgh and Durham in the Men’s and Women’s competitions respectively: the men led 20-9 and the women were up to 30-7 soon after. The St Andrews-Manchester semi-final was proving rather closer, at 35-32 lead in the Epee. The clock called time on an exhausting bout between Adam Gordon of St Andrews and Gregory St Clair Jones of Manchester with the score at 43-all; sudden-death gave Manchester a slight advantage. Meanwhile, Imperial had taken 45-26 and 45-12 leads over Edinburgh and Durham, and Edinburgh Women led Cambridge 45-41 after the Sabre in their semi-final.
Manchester made a fast start to the Sabre but St Andrews came storming back to lead 35-20, while Imperial were looking less convincing, trailing by albeit small margins in their Epee categories. St Andrews’ high tempo was too much for Manchester, who fell 30-45 to present their opponents with a great chance to progress to the final. In the other matches, Imperial Men lost out 44-45 to Edinburgh, though their Women had turned their match around to win the Epee 43-38; Cambridge had struck back against Edinburgh, taking the Foil 45-40.
St Andrews entered the Foil knowing 32 points would be enough; despite some awkward opponents and excruciatingly close bouts, their captain Cesar Diaz-Gonzalez sealed it with a clever little jab at 32-31. By this point, Imperial Men were already in the final, having swept away Edinburgh 45-29 in the Sabre for an overall victory of 134-100. They now knew their opponents in the final, despite Manchester taking the Foil 45-43 as a small consolation. The Women’s final would be between Imperial, who had sealed a 133-83 win over Durham, and Cambridge, who had defeated Edinburgh 131-120.
The Men’s final began with the Foil; St Andrews made an aggressive start but Imperial had more clever shots up their sleeves; from 11-all, Imperial turned on their quality and rocketed into the lead. St Andrews gave their all in an attempt to force their way back in but were taking some punishment: Foil gave Imperial a big advantage, 45-26.
The Sabre was then again decisive, this time not in St Andrews’ favour. Maiyuran Ratneswaran, later awarded the Classic Miniatures supported BUCS ‘player of the final’, was instrumental as Imperial simply outclassed their opponents. Despite St Andrews offering some more resistance towards the final bouts, Imperial had the bit between their teeth and were not going to let their position slip: they took a 44-point lead with a 45-20 Sabre masterclass.
Imperial got the single point they needed to confirm gold in the first Epee bout. Despite the match being decided, St Andrews did keep their spirits up and pushed Imperial all the way, drawing level at 44-all in the final minute of the last bout, before Marcell Colombino from Imperial snatched it 45-44 at the death.
Imperial had justified their favourites tag by winning 135-90. St Andrews were content with Silver, Diaz-Gonzalez admitting that just getting to the final was a bonus and that Imperial had told his team they were the best they had fenced all season. For Imperial, it was a BUCS Championship double, as the Women had also won fairly comfortably against Cambridge, 123-96.
The Trophy finals were played on the same afternoon, and saw wins for Birmingham and Cardiff in the Men’s and Women’s competitions respectively, having seen off teams from Kent (130-115) and Glasgow (129-116) Universities.
Overall, it was a day of high-quality fencing played in good spirit and enjoyed by all who came to spectate. Imperial left with the Gold and the biggest cause for cheer, though the other teams who made it to Sheffield were rightfully applauded for a hard season’s work as well.
Written by Richard Browne, BUCS Championships Student Media Team
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