On the evening of Monday 16th March, 13 St Mary's girls set off to The Public Schools Fencing Competition at Crystal Palace.
We stayed overnight in a hotel so that we would be ready and fighting fit in the morning. After a five-course breakfast, we set of to the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. There were over 50 schools attending from all over the country, with many international fencers from GBR, Wales, Italy, Ghana, Scotland, Jersey and Germany.
We had five St Mary's girls in the Mount Haes Section, six girls in the Junior Section and two in the Senior Section. All the girls were put into poules and had to fight every girl in their poule. If they did well in this first round, they would then proceed to the second round. We had a great start, four out of five went through to the second round in the Mount Haes - Tegen, Davina, Annabel and Hattie. In the Junior Section we also got four out of five through to the next round - Imo, Alice, Victoria, Helena and Gabby.
In the Senior Section, Helena B. fought well and managed to get through to the second round, which was a big challenge, as most of the girls in this section had been fencing for years and were international fencers. The second rounds were a lot tougher; the girls had to fight and win by being the first to five points (and this has to be done in three minutes). It is a very mental and physical sport, and after three minutes' fencing you can be exhausted! After these poules, we had two girls through (Annabel and Tegen) in the Mount Haes Section into the last 32 fencers! In the Junior Section, Helena and Imo also got through to the last 32.
The girls then moved into the knock-out rounds, which meant they had to fight the first to 15 points in four-minute fights, with a rest for one minute. This was very hard and we were now really hitting the International fencers. Helena, Imo and Tegen put up a good fight but were beaten, but Annabel competed with grit and determination and won her fight. This put her into the last 16 in the competition. This was an absolutely fantastic result for Annabel. She then came up a very good fencer from Millfield who won the next fight.
The girls should be very proud of what they achieved. They only fence once a week and we were up against girls that fence every day of the week for school and, in addition, attend fencing clubs. A huge thank you to Tim Miles and his son Jacob for coaching and umpiring.
Roll on next year now that we have a little more experience!