Photo: Richard Michell (left) Retains Northwest U16 Epee Champion Title

Yesterday at the Marshall Fencing Club in Oldham, Richard Michell, a pupil at Scarisbrick Hall School, successfully defended his under 16 epee title at the Northwest Youth Fencing Championships. For several weeks, it had looked as though this might have been a non-event, as Richard was the only boy enrolled for his age range. Fortunately, in the final week several last minute entries enabled the competition to take place after all.

Since the under 16 numbers were still quite small, the organisers decided to combine the boys with the under 18s for the seeding rounds, the poules. This was a sound decision as it gave all of the boys a much larger group to spar with and so develop a more meaningful ranking to arrange the direct elimination duels. This was particularly useful for Richard as he also competes on the national circuit at the older age range and this decision enabled him to gain additional practice against the Northwest’s top under 18s.

So far this year, Richard has had a very promising start to the season and this gave him the confidence to settle quickly into his poule fights. Any fears that he would not be able to repeat the success of last year quickly faded away as he worked his way through all of the under 16s and 18s alike without loosing a single match. His closest fight was with Martin Bluck, last year’s under 18 champion. Martin pushed Richard to a close 4-5 result, but otherwise, Richard totally dominated and finished the poules ranked 1st overall.

This strong position earned Richard a bye directly to the under 16 final. Here his opponent was Samuel Southern from AKS School at Lytham St. Annes. Samuel started the duel with some cautious testing of Richard’s defences, and Richard in turn was content to see how Samuel would develop his attack. When it came, he tried a series of rapid advances and lunges, probing for weaknesses in Richard’s defence. For his part, Richard quickly blunted these attacks and often turned them to his advantage with aggressive ripostes. At this stage the scores built steadily but Samuel struggled to keep pace.

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Sensing Samuel’s frustration, Richard decided to press home his advantage by swapping to the attack and began overwhelming him with a series of lunges and fleches that saw Richard extend his score into double figures. Samuel tried to get himself back into the match but found it hard to pass Richard’s guard. The last touch came after Samuel bravely launched a fleche attack against tournament point. Richard responded by stepping back and taking the parry. This lead to a rapid play of blades, but as Samuel tried to recover, Richard riposted for a final score of 15-6.

This result also qualifies Richard to compete in the British Youth Championships final in May, where all of the regional medallists will meet to decide the national champion! Richard would like to thank his coach David Stobbs, for the tremendous support he has given him to reach this standard. He would also like to thank Lancashire County Council for their award from the Champion for Young People’s budget as well as Adrian Shandley of Premier Wealth Management, for his continued sponsorship.

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