Fencing: En garde! Country's best fencers in town

Dunedin fencers Fiona McDonald (left) and Pippi Miller train in the majestic surrounds of the...
Dunedin fencers Fiona McDonald (left) and Pippi Miller train in the majestic surrounds of the Mercure Hotel yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

Former Olympian Martin Brill (Christchurch) could upset the young guns when the inaugural President's Cup competition is held in Dunedin this weekend.

Brill (57) competed in the epee at two Olympic Games, finishing 14th in Los Angeles in 1984 and seventh in Seoul in 1988.

He is the leader of the ''Silver Foxes'', older fencers who enjoy beating the younger competitors.

Brill will not have everything to himself in the epee because he will be tested by former New Zealand champion Graham Payne (Timaru) and the Canterbury pair of Andreas Sesun and Mark Rance.

New Zealand champion Hamish Clarke (Christchurch) will be keen to add the President's Cup men's foil title to his collection but he will be challenged by Chris Bell (Auckland), the No 1 seed.

Dunedin has been given the honour of staging the inaugural President's Cup, the winter national championships.

The tournament will mark the New Zealand celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Federation Internationale D'Escrime, the world governing body of fencing.

It is also the 60th anniversary of Fencing South and the 30th year of the Claymore Swords Club in Dunedin.

To match the special occasion, the semifinals and finals tonight and tomorrow night will be held in the old style and grandeur of the Chancellor Room at the Mercure Hotel.

The earlier pools and elimination rounds will be held at the Claymore Swords Club.

The women's epee will be a battle between Kate Brill (Christchurch) and Charlotte Dewsnap (Wellington).

In the women's foil, nobody is expected to be able to cope with the skill of Dunedin's Fiona McDonald. McDonald, an administrator at the College of Education, won a gold medal in the veterans aged 40 to 49 foil at the Commonwealth championships in 2010.

She has been a New Zealand representative since 2006 when she first competed at the Commonwealth championships.

McDonald is the top-ranked woman fencer in the foil and is not expected to be challenged by the fourth-ranked Dewsnap or sixth-ranked Rachel Rowlands (Christchurch).

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