FENCING: Richard Michell wins Bronze at Canterbury LPJS Epee

On Sunday Richard Michell, a pupil at Scarisbrick Hall College, fenced at the under 15 Canterbury Epee. There had been no published entry lists for this event, so Richard did not know who he would have to face on the day.

So it came as quite a shock for him to discover that England’s top U15 fencer, James Russell who earlier this year had finished fifth in an international event in Poland, had enrolled to use the Canterbury as a warm-up tournament for the English Youth Championships next weekend!

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Furthermore, Richard and James found themselves drawn in the same poule in the seeding rounds and then picked against each other for the first match! James wasted no time in demonstrating his skill and rapidly overwhelmed Richard to beat him 5-2. Richard had to quickly put this defeat behind him and focus on doing well in the remainder of the poule fights; which he did to win them all: 5-0, 5-0, 5-1, 5-2.

This left him ranked fourth going into the direct elimination stage, with a bye through the first round.

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Unfortunately, it also placed him on the same side of the table as James meaning they would meet again in the semi-finals. Richard watch as many of James’ fights as he could to look for any weaknesses that could exploit in the inevitable clash that lay ahead. On his way to the semis Richard had to win against Joseph Breedon (15-6) and Tobias Bushell (15-1) before he once again faced James.

Richard had observed that James relied on his reach and speed to attack at distance. So he decided on a high risk strategy of closing rapidly and keeping all of the fighting at close quarters. This daring approach paid dividends and Richard was able to keep pace with James’ scoring and even at one point pull ahead 8-5. Unfortunately, James started to adapt to Richard’s tactic in the closing points of the match and gained a critical two point lead that enabled him to eventually win by a close 15-13.

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James then went on to also win the final by an easy 15-6. For Richard to fair so well against one of the top cadet fencers in Europe was a tremendous achievement and his bronze medal was very well deserved. Also this result was sufficient to keep him at the top of the Leon Paul series rankings.

Richard would like to thank West Lancashire Borough Council for their talented athlete award and Premier Wealth Management Ltd., a Southport based firm of independent financial advisers, for their generous sponsorship.

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Without their support, Richard would not be able to pursue this series of national competitions.

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