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Fencing Canada – It was another outstanding weekend of fencing for Canada. It all started with a superb 7th place finish in women’s foil by Eleanor Harvey (Hamilton, ON), at the FIE World Cup in Gdansk, Poland.  Harvey’s World Cup result is the best ever by a Canadian in Women’s Foil, and her result catapulted her to the top of the Pan Am zonal spots and just one point out of top 14, an automatic berth.


Eleanor’s three victories versus this year’s World Cup winner (Cancun 2015) Yasora Thibus, World Cup silver medallist (Paris 2015) Carolyn Golubitsky, and the Grand Prix winner (Turin 2015) Alice Volpi confirmed her status as a legitimate medal contender.  


Stated Head Coach, Paul ApSimon (Ottawa, ON), “Eleanor’s result was satisfying but what I enjoyed most was Eleanor’s perseverance in the battle.  All of Eleanor’s bouts were tactical battles and she managed to find ways to win through her creativity and adaption to her opponent’s game.”


“I feel happy about this result,” said Harvey.  “This is my first year as a senior fencer.  One of my goals this year was to learn how to succeed at this level.   I made it a priority to compete at all the Satellite World Cups to learn to win at this level.  I feel that this experience has given me the confidence to perform on the World Cup circuit.  I have defeated some of these top fencers in 5 hit and team matches so I knew I was capable.  I am happy to have been able to defeat three top fencers in succession which will help my confidence moving forward.”


All three of Canada’s fencers entered into the individual event advanced to the round of 64.  Kelleigh Ryan (Ottawa, ON) finished 43rd while Shannon Comerford (Saskatoon, SK) was 64th overall in an event which featured 170 fencers.


The Women’s Foil athletes continued with their success in the team event on Sunday.  Canada finished 8th out of 21 teams.


“The team event was very satisfying,” stated Coach ApSimon. “Defeating Poland for the first time in Poland was a huge confidence boost and following it up with a strong 29-26 quarter final match versus Olympic silver medallists confirmed that this team of Shannon Comerford, Kelleigh Ryan, and Eleanor Harvey along with Alanna Goldie who was absent this week, is becoming one of the world’s best.  The future looks bright.”  


Stated Comerford (Saskatoon, SK): “I have been on the senior national team since 2009 and fenced Poland dozens of times and we have come close in the last couple of years.  Defeating them today felt good and confirmed that we are heading in the right direction.  We are looking forward to the World Championships in April.”


The Men’s Foil team was also in World Cup Olympic Qualifying action in Paris, France.  Top in individual qualification was Maximilien Van Haaster (Montreal, QC) who finished 83rd in an event that saw over 200 athletes.  Van Haaster’s result keeps him top of the Pan Am zone Olympic qualification spots.


The real story in Men’s Foil however is the Team event.  Canada was sitting a few points behind Brazil in the team rankings coming into the Paris event with the USA in fifth position, just a few points out of top 4 and an automatic berth.  The USA won the team event in Paris which moved them into first place overall and consequently opened up a second berth for a Pan Am zone team. 


The stars were aligned in Canada’s favour this weekend as Mexico defeated Brazil in the round of 32, while Canada had a bye to the round of 16.  Team Canada, which consisted of Anthony Prymack (Montreal, QC), Etienne Lalonde-Turbide (Montreal, QC) and Eli Schenkel (living in New York) and without Maximilien Van Haaster who suffered an injury in his last Individual bout, finished the event in 16th place while Brazil was 17th overall. This puts Canada currently in the Pan Am zone Olympic Qualification spot ahead of Brazil by eight points heading into the last Olympic Qualifying World Cup event in Bonn, Germany in February.


Juniors were also in action this weekend. The Men’s Epee Junior Team was in Bale, Switzerland competing in the Team World Cup and finished an impressive 7th overall out of 21 teams.  The Canadian team of Dylan French (Richmond, BC), Loic Beaulieu (Sherbrooke, QC), Loup-Yann Ferre (Quebec, QC), and Matson Lalor (White Rock, BC) defeated Denmark 45-21 to advance to the round of 16 where they faced Ukraine and won 45-38.  The team then faced the eventual gold medalists Italy in the quarter-finals and lost 45-34.  The team eventually went on to place 7th overall.


Meanwhile in Moedling, Austria, Canada’s young male sabre fencers took part in a European Fencing Circuit event this weekend.  Canada’s top fencers were Francois Cauchon (Montreal, QC) and Hunter Moricz (North Vancouver, BC) who finished 7th and 8th overall in an event which included 179 fencers! 


Canada currently sits with five Individual fencers in Olympic qualification positions along with an additional three fencers from the Men’s Foil Team, for a total of eight fencers so far with only a few more events to go in the FIE schedule.  Another ninth fencer has a strong chance of qualifying through a final zone qualifier.  Go Canada go!