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Rachael and Maisie make their mark on the international stage




Fencers from across the area have been celebrating an amazing season of success.

Their achievements have come through the Oundle, Peterborough and Stamford Epee Club who are toasting an extraordinary period despite only being in existence since 2011.

The progression of their members has been incredible with eight British titles won since it launched and 10 fencers representing their country at an international level and competing around the world for Great Britain, England and Scotland.

Rachael Lever. Photo: Jess Platt
Rachael Lever. Photo: Jess Platt

Rachael Lever started the season’s run of success when she attended the Under 17 (cadet) and Under 20 (junior) Commonwealth Fencing Championships in Newcastle.

Over four days of fencing, she came 14th in the individual cadet epee, seventh in the junior individuals, took bronze as part of the junior team event with Scotland and became a Commonwealth champion as part of the cadet team event with her Scottish colleagues.

She continued her good form at the British Championships in Nottingham to win the cadet title and take bronze in the juniors.

At County Championship level, there were 23 champions from the club and schools winning titles in Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Rutland and Lincolnshire.

Twenty fencers also managed to qualify for the British finals following the Regional Youth Championships.

Maisie McCormack, Robin Silk, William Furguson, Arwa Pearson became Eastern Region champions and Emile Le Hair, Alexis Golart and Freya Thorold won titles at the East Midlands Championships.

McCormack and Lever were then selected for the cadet squad for Great Britain for the European Federation circuit of events.

The duo attended events in France, Germany, Denmark and Slovakia, trying to get suitable international results for selection for Great Britain’s European and World squads

Lever showed great consistency with top 32 placings at two events and a top 64 at another and was in the top three of the GB rankings for all of the season to qualify for both European and World Championships.

McCormack steadily improved through the season and in Copenhagen, Denmark, secured the highest placed result for any of the countries GB female epeeists this season, beating several of Europe’s top fencers to win a remarkable bronze medal at the event and in doing so secure her own qualification to the GB team.

Having qualified for the British team, McCormack and Lever travelled to Foggia, Italy, for the European Championships as part of a team of four representing Great Britain.

It was a great learning experience with McCormack winning three out of six matches and Lever winning three out of five to safely negotiate the first round eliminations.

In the last 128 round McCormack unfortunately lost to a Macedonian fencer with Lever having a bye to the last 64 as she was higher seeded where she lost to a Belarus opponent. Lever’s final placing was 46th and McCormack’s 67th.

At the World Championships, McCormack and Lever took two out of three British spots at the event.

McCormack had a storming first round, winning four out of six matches, to get through in style and only just miss a bye straight into the last 64 by a few spaces.

In the last 128 round, McCormack led the match well, only to finish off on the losing side against her Latvian opponent to finish placed 65th.

Lever struggled in the first round, losing four of her first five matches of the day.

Needing a big win in her final first round match against an opponent from Egypt, Lever took a 3-0 lead, then two doubles gave her a 5-2 win which left her with a wait to see what side of the elimination line she would be.

Fortunately luck was on her side and she was the final fencer to qualify through to the knock-out rounds.

There she met the Estonian 40th seed Komissarova and Lever proceeded to take a 15-13 win to reach the last 64 round to face Japanese fencer Hanna Saito.

Lever started well to lead 7-5 after the first period, but met her match and lost 15-11 to end up in 64th place. Saito went on to reach the top 16 of the event.

Both the European and World Championships have motivated McCormack and Lever to work hard towards their future goals of representing Great Britain at World Under 20, Under 23 and senior level going forward.

Oundle, Peterborough and Stamford Epee Fencing Club (11319669)
Oundle, Peterborough and Stamford Epee Fencing Club (11319669)

Teams from Prince William School, Kings School (Peterborough), Oundle Primary School and Stamford Junior Schools attended the British School Team Championships.

The event took place in Rickmansworth, West London, and saw teams (consisting of three or four fencers) from across the country compete for British honours.

Medal performances went to both boys and girls year five/six (Under 11s) teams from Oundle Primary securing bronzes and a silver for Prince William Under 18s (years 11-13) girls team.

The pick of the results was Stamford Junior School boys team’s silver in the Under 11 event, especially considering the school only launched fencing last September.

The club has also had success in the sport of pentathlon, which includes fencing as one of its five events.

Jess Varley. Photo: Jess Platt
Jess Varley. Photo: Jess Platt

Jess Varley, who has fenced for many years at the club, won a bronze medal at the European Under 24 Championship in September and has been selected to represent Great Britain at Senior World Cup level this year.

Varley recorded her personal best senior World Cup result, coming seventh at the three- event in Hungary, finishing as top British competitor and putting her in a great position to look for Olympic qualification for 2020.

The year has ended on a high for club fencers at the British Youth Championship Finals at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

There were 10 top 16 results in Britain, including pupils at Warmington Primary, Bourne Grammar, Stamford Junior, Prince William and Kings School Peterborough.

The event was capped off with a bronze medal for Niamh Noble in the Under 18 Girls event and British titles for Lever in the Under 18 Girls event and William Ferguson in the Under 16 Boys event.

The club is community run by Chris Howser and holds evening fencing sessions in Oundle, Peterborough and Stamford.

The club also accepts new beginners to the sessions on a monthly basis so, if you are interested in trying the sport, details can be found at www.eliteepee.com or email chrishowser@hotmail.co.uk



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