En Gard-ner!

Fencer Karl Gardner leaves rookie label in Kingston.

The Queen’s fencing team has high hopes for next year. The OUA banner is within their grasp as long as they can hold off rival schools; the University of Toronto, Royal Military College and defending champions Carleton University.
The Queen’s fencing team has high hopes for next year. The OUA banner is within their grasp as long as they can hold off rival schools; the University of Toronto, Royal Military College and defending champions Carleton University.
Credit: 
Journal file photo

Although he may a rookie on the Queen’s fencing team, Karl Gardner’s fencing resume is longer than most of his teammates. Since picking up the sport at age 11 at the Toronto Fencing Club, he’s traveled the world representing Canada.

At the Canadian National Championship, over Canada Day weekend in Repegtiny, Quebec, Gardner and his teammate Jack Chen met a higher level of competition than the Gaels usually face during their season.

“The OUA circuit, as competitive as is it, is a lower level of competition due to the fact that it is limited to university fencers in Ontario,” he said in an e-mail to the Journal. “The nationals take the top fencers from coast to coast to compete against each other.”

Gardner competed in both the junior and senior men’s epee competition over the weekend. In the junior competition he dueled John Wright from Ottawa, Ontario, familiar to Gardner from facing him in the senior men’s competition.

Gardner won the bronze in the senior men’s and said he hoped to ride the momentum from his semi-final match through to the finals. However, Wright’s skills were not to be underestimated.

“I knew I had a tough match on my hands,” he said. “Especially after he immediately took the lead at the start of the bout, forcing me to play ‘catch up’ right off the bat.”

The long tournament began to take its toll on the competitors. Gardner and Wright continued to trade points and were forced into overtime to decide the gold-medal winner.

“It was a close bout the entire time after that, neither one of us getting more than a point or two ahead,” he said. “By the end of the bout we were tied and I was yet again forced to settle the match in overtime ... Knowing that the next would determine the victor, I put all the tiredness and nervousness in the back of my head ... and got the last touch.”

Gardner said he couldn’t have asked for a more exciting final, winning him his third consecutive national title. This will also be his final national title in the junior category.

Competitions like the Canadian National Championship allow Gardner to expand his knowledge of the sport and strengthen his skills against stronger opponents.

“Fencing people from around the country really helps my training,” he said. “Not only because of the higher level of competition, but also the diverse fencing styles, tactics, and techniques I encounter. This not only benefits me personally, but allows me to make my team better through passing on my experience to them through coaching.”

Having missed the OUA semi-finals due to a commitment with the national team, Gardner was only able to travel to the OUA finals in a coaching role. This year he comes back excited about the prospects of the team.

“My expectations are nothing but high for this team for next year,” he said. “The improvement I have seen throughout Queen’s fencing, even just in my first year here, leads me to believe that we are definitely a major contender for the OUA banner this year.

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