Friday, 17 February 2012 00:00
Fifth grader Andrew Zheng from George A. Jackson Elementary School in Jericho likes to compare the sport of fencing with the swordfight between Zorro and Sgt. Garcia. It only takes Zorro a few clever moves to cause the fat Sgt. a lot of mayhem, especially when Garcia supposedly weighs “only 50 pounds.” Fencing, also called “physical chess,” is one of the four sports that have been featured at every modern Olympic Games. The sport is divided into three weapons: Foil, Sabre and Épée. It is a physical as well as a mental sport. Not only does a fencer need to have agility, strength and speed, he or she also needs to be cunning, to be able to figure out what the opponent’s next intention is, all within a split of a second.
The United States Fencing Association (USFA) sanctioned Super Youth Circuit (SYC) was held at the National Harbor, Maryland during the weekend of Feb 3-5. More than 800 youth fencers from all over the country participated in about two-dozen events with more than 1200 individual entries. According to the organizer of the tournament, this year’s is the largest ever-Super Youth Circuit in U.S. fencing history. Andrew fenced in two events and won a Jefferson Cup for his first place in Youth 10 Men’s Foil (age of 10 or younger, the youngest age group), and a medal for the 7th place in Youth 12 (age of 12 or younger) Men’s Foil events.Andrew regularly trains at the Fencing Academy of Westchester whose members range from beginner and recreational fencers to NCAA Division I fencers, to fencers on the U.S. National Team who compete internationally.
“Andrew has put up a good fight and won some tough bouts in Maryland, I am very happy for him.” said his coach Steve Simonov, a world rated fencing director and currently representing our country as a referee on the international World Cup circuit.
Coming home with fresh results is a big boost for Andrew’s fencing season. He is currently ranked third in the country for Youth 10 and 26th in Youth 12 age groups in Men’s Foil. He finished his 2011 season in Reno Nevada winning a bronze medal for the Youth 10 Men’s Foil at the National Championships, which is the largest fencing event in the world, according to USFA.
Winning is however not the only thing in fencing, Andrew has made friends throughout his travel and fencing meets. They hang out together during competitions and support, cheer for each other. Good sportsmanship is a must in fencing because regardless of winning and losing, at the end of a bout, fencers always salute to each other and to the referee, they always shake hands.
“Fencing is the thrilling sound of steel meeting steel,” reads the USFA mission statement. “It is the sweet taste of victory and the personal growth accompanying both victory and defeat.”