There were 41 of us in the men's epee, and we were getting two rounds of pools, with all fencers promoting through to the DE. The Sunday also had the women's epee, men's sabre and women's sabre events running - I could see that it would be a long day.
The epee pools didn't start until 9:15 or so, and just before the start, I met another Australian, Brett, who was in my pool (I had noticed his name in the UK rankings and at FencingForum ). He told me that my first bout was against someone who could well win the competition. I figured it'd be a good bout to win, but it wasn't to be - I started nervously, and he won 5-3. I fenced Brett next, and he won 5-2 (or was it 5-1 ? It was convincing). This was not the start I was looking for, although, with everyone promoting to the next round, it didn't matter hugely. Still, I wanted to be fencing better than that, and managed to pick up a little for the remaining three bouts, winning 5-4, 5-1 and 5-1.
After the pool there was a fairly long wait, while other three events got their first round of pools going, then finally on to the next round. This time I was in a pool of 5, and my first bout was against Gavin, who I had been introduced to not long before (he sometimes makes the trip from Glasgow to Edinburgh to train, and I'm starting to think it's time to visit the Edinburgh epeeists and have a poke at them). He's a tallish left-hander, and I fenced reasonably well, but he won 5-4. The next bout I ran into a dose of good form, winning 5-1, but then lost again, 4-1 (on time) against someone whose fencing style seemed to consist of a) doing not very much, and b) having a very good defense when attacked. That frustrated me, and I won the final bout of the pool 5-1. A 2-2 record is not normally the recipe for success in the DE, but I would just have to wait and see how it went.
"Wait" is the operative word, as again we waited for the other three events, plus the (incomplete) round-of-64 bouts in the men's epee, then finally my DE got under way. I was seeded 17th, so had to fence the 16th seed first. I was fencing someone taller than me, although I use a french-grip epee, holding it right on the pommel, so I gain a bit of reach from that. I managed to get the first couple of hits in the bout, and then we had almost nothing but double-hits for the rest of the bout - I suspect that my opponent was too used to having a reach advantage and getting single-light hits through longer reach against most people, and it just didn't work that way against me. I got to 14-12, made a mistake and conceded a hit to be at 14-13, then we got another double, and that was the bout, 15-14 to me (a scoreline that doesn't reflect my comfort level in the bout - I was always ahead, and fairly confident that I could win it).
That moved me to the round of 16, where I faced Gavin (from the round 2 pool) again. He was seeded first after that round. This time, I was focused and fencing well, and got away to a quick lead that turned into a score of 8-4 at the first break, and a win of 15-6 at the end (I had timing and distance just about spot on that bout, and Gavin kept attacking or moving forward into my Wall Of Counter-Attacks[tm]).
Into the round of 8, and I was facing Brett (the other Aussie) again. Once again, I was focused and fencing well, and I won that bout 15-9.
The round of 4 next, and I was fencing someone I hadn't fenced yet. All seemed to be going well again, I was 8-4 up, and then ...
Something happened. My concentration went, and my opponent got 6 hits in a row on me. At 8-10 down I managed to refocus a bit, and got the scores back to level at 12-all, but then he got two good hits on me, and then time ran out and he won.
(It rather surprised me that time ran out - I had always been under the impression that if the fencers couldn't see the clock, the president would give them a warning with one minute remaining in the bout. Apparently I'm out of touch, though, and this is not the case ...)
So, there it was, equal third for me, in my first competition in the UK (and, coincidentally, the other third placegetter was the first person I fenced in the day). Overall, I'm happy with my performance - putting together three fully-focused DE bouts is good. The concentration lapse was not so good - and it has happened before. I must find a way to refocus quickly when it happens - losing one or two hits might be manageable, but 6 is never good.
So, that was my first fencing competition in the UK. We're now plotting for our next comp. - the next one in Scotland isn't until January, so we'll have to go further afield. There'll be the Leicester Open in mid-October, but we have to work out if we can afford to get there and if so, what the best way to get there is (unfortunately, it's being held in Kettering, about 10 miles from Leicester, and 30-40 to the nearest airports in any direction. The train trip from here would seem to involve 2 or 3 changes, and isn't all that cheap either. Driving seems to be cheapest still, but then we get tired out from the driving ... ).
Meanwhile, back to the gym, and back to the training, and let's hope I can get an even better result next time.