quaker fencer

kathz isn't quite my name. I may be a Quaker. If I'm a fencer I'm a bad one and I don't do sabre. If I'm a Quaker I'm a bad one - but you've worked that out already. Read on. Comment if you like. Don't expect a reply.

Location: United Kingdom

Monday, July 09, 2007

fencing for couch potatoes

Thank you, Eurosport.

I never thought I'd say that. But last week at fencing the word went round - "There's fencing on the telly."

The following day an e-mail arrived giving the times of the broadcasts.

I didn't get to see the events I would have chosen. I'd have liked to see Laura Flessel-Colovic win gold at epee.

But it was amazing to see fencing on television at all. Usually the most anyone in Britain can hope for is a 30-second montage of very exciting bits without explanation - and that happens only in an Olympic year. But Eurosport, a cable channel, carried live coverage from the European championships. Blocks lasted between three-quarters of an hour and two hours. And I watched the last two broadcasts.

I've never seen film of fencing at that level. The skill I saw made up for a shortage of epee broadcasts. I saw the team men's foil final and was startled by the technique of the German Benjamin Kleibrink.

Instead of the small, economical arm movements I was taught, he made large movements. On one occasion he followed a parry in the low-line with a riposte over his opponent's shoulder that attached on his back. Meanwhile the expert British commentators discussed right of way, the reasons for yellow and red cards and the techniques employed by the fencers. It all seemed so clear - and if there were problems, the referee and the audience had the chance to watch the slow-motion replay, which evoked further comment on technique.

Later I saw the end of the final of the men's epee and the women's team sabre final, where everything hung on the final point.

There was a huge distance between those fencers and me. When I started fencing, I used to admire all the experienced fencers and know I'd never be as good as them. But these international fencers are far beyond anything I could have imagined.
I could never lunge so deeply or move with such speed and precision. It's not just a matter of age. These fencers are magic.

But I'm not depressed by the distance between their fencing and mine. I'm thrilled at taking part in the same sport.

And I'm convinced that fencing works on TV - and not just for fencers. It's far more exciting than football (or the tennis or the Grand Prix or the Tour de France). It's fast, elegant and immensely clever. And they use swords.

Note: Not all the photos I've borrowed for this post show this year's European championship. Two come from earlier championships. European championship website - click here to start browsing.

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Anonymous Jim said...

The only time I ever saw fencing on US television was the Olympics.

I wish I could have seen it with you.

I would have made popcorn.

1:24 am  
Blogger kathz said...

Popcorn would have been impossible - it was so exciting I couldn't stop watching. I hadn't realised just how televisual fencing is.

Mind you, it was on a minor cable channel. The few of us at the club who got to see it found it ever so exciting. And the clarity of explanation and dry humour of the commentators was a treat. I didn't know there were two people who could provide expert TV commentary on fencing - and with such style.

8:30 am  

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