Fencing can’t win at their own game

Gaels welcome largest pool of athletes ever at tournament, bring only one medal home

The Queen’s fencing team hosted its 32nd annual Queen’s Invitational Fencing Tournament last weekend, entering a team of 39 fencers to compete against the more than 250 visiting athletes.

Kristina Han was the highest placing woman, finishing ninth in the women’s sabre. In the men’s events, Martin Busse finished with Queen’s only medal, a bronze in men’s sabre.

Busse, the assistant coach, said although he would have liked to see more medals from the Gaels, given the number of rookies representing the Tricolour, the results weren’t surprising.

“I would’ve preferred to see more medals,” he said. “It seems we’re always in a rebuilding year, but this truly is a rebuilding year. Expect a strong Queen’s team in years to come.”

Busse said the level of competition at the tournament was very high, because other schools sent larger, stronger teams to the Queen’s Invitational than they had in the past, making medaling very difficult for the Gaels. But, it was a good learning experience for the new team members.

“The tournament prepared the rookies for what they’ll be expected to do at coming tournaments,” Busse said. “It was a difficult tournament to set a medal target for, though there were a few people on the team who probably should’ve medaled.”

While the large rookie class is replacing a very successful graduating core, Busse said the veterans on the team aren’t expecting the rookies to step into the alumni’s shoes.

“There’s quite a bit of compassion,” he said. “The men’s sabre rookies had a bit of shellshock after their first pool bout. That pressure isn’t there, but they might be putting it on themselves. I hope they weren’t discouraged because there’s so much that goes into a tournament that you can’t get from four weeks of holding a sword.”

As for improvements before the team’s next competition, Nov. 1 and 2 at the Royal Military College, Busse said the team needs to focus on its mental preparations for the front end of competition.

“Once we got onto the direct elimination belt we performed better, but it wasn’t a string of good performances, it was momentary strength,” he said. “We need to concentrate on making sure the fencers are psychologically ready from the start of the tournament, not a few moments into the bout or a few fights into the day.”

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