Saturday, August 10, 2013

Chan duo lead talented team to Oceania medals

New Zealand has struggled in fencing at international level, but that could be about to change if a group of young Cantabrians have their way. Several secondary school fencers are making their mark in the sport, which was evidenced by their results at the recent Australian age-group championships, and the Oceania championships, which were held in New Caledonia. Canterbury competitors picked up three medals at the Australian age-group nationals, with Burnside High's Wai Ling Chan winning silver in the girls' under-17 epee, and schoolmate Lucian Nightingale picking up a second placing in the under-17 boys' epee. Cashmere High's Sheldon Ogilvie added to the province's success, with a bronze in the under-15 boys' epee. The trio then backed up those pleasing performances, a few days later, at the Oceania championships. Chan dominated the competition, taking gold in her under-17 girls' epee event. It was her fourth Oceania age-group title. She also went to this year's youth world championships in Croatia, which she said exposed her to a higher level of fencing. Nightingale shone at the Oceanias, winning silver in the under-17 boys' epee, while Ogilvie picked up a bronze in the same event. Christ's College's Daniel Keleghan claimed bronze in the under-17 boys' foil. Anthony Goh, Ogilvie, and Nightingale joined up to win silver in the teams event. Fencing Institute coach Daniel Chan, who mentors the young fencers, said their results were testimony to their dedication and commitment. The fencers train four to five times a week, including sessions before school, and he said they had made heartening progress. They will be out for more glory at the upcoming New Zealand secondary school, and under-20 junior championships. The students have one of the best in the business to learn off, with Chan a Hong Kong representative at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, where he advanced to the second round of the epee event. Daughter Wai Ling is now following in his footsteps, and is aiming to qualify for next year's Youth Olympics in China, along with Ogilvie. Chan Sr said fencing could be tough initially for beginners, but with perseverance, it became easier. "Fencing takes a long time to master the skills. A lot of people start, but not many stay in it. With fencing you have to put in a lot of practice to master the sport." He believed fencers need strong mental skills, agile footwork, solid technique, and a high fitness base to do well. - © Fairfax NZ News BRENDON EGAN Last updated 05:00 07/08/2013

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