Fencer on point

EN GARDE: Kyle MacDonald is fencing’s National Men’s Epee Champion.
EN GARDE: Kyle MacDonald is fencing’s National Men’s Epee Champion.

Swordsman Kyle MacDonald may not be as fast as his younger opponents but that doesn't stop him from running rings around them.

The Auckland Swords fencer beat the odds after a shaky start to win his first men's epee title at the Fencing National Championships in Christchurch.

"I won because of my wisdom," the Mt Albert resident says.

"The youngsters are all faster than me but I can outwit them and that's what I love about this sport."

Fencers in the epee category use their weapons, or epees, to target opponents on any part of their bodies and scores are recorded by a push button switch on the tips of blades.

The Epsom-based Auckland Swords made a clean sweep of the competition, winning both the men's and women's epee titles with MacDonald's training partner Sheryl Fan defending the top spot.

The three-times national women's champion also went on to help lead the Fencing North women's team to gold.

MacDonald came to the competition to win after missing out in the past.

His quest for the trophy was not easy. "It went disastrously at the start. That's probably the worst I have ever started a tournament but that's where my experience comes in."

He would not let a technical glitch with his equipment during the semifinal faze him and managed to cut through the competition from there, he says.

"I didn't stop grinning for a week afterwards. I have placed second and third but to actually come this far is really good."

Scotland-born MacDonald first picked up a fencing sword at the age of 16 and, apart from a short break, has not put it down since.

Fencing training twice a week combined with gym strength sessions and fitness training keep the veteran fencer one step ahead of the aspiring youngsters.

He says there are some talented young fencers coming through the ranks at the club, whose oldest member is 72.

"They definitely keep you on your toes. To get better I have to fence with the best and some of these youngsters are beating me so I have to bring my A-game."

He now has his sights set on placing high at the Australian Championships in December.

Fencing New Zealand north president John Garelja says the sport is gaining more interest with young people.

"Only one in 10 people stick at it because it is a very individual sport, almost like martial arts, and you have to be very dedicated," he says.

"But those ones that do stick at it love it so it's growing steadily."

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