Scarisbrick Hall Fencer Wins Under 18 Medal at the Merseyside Open.

Richard Michell, a pupil at Scarisbrick Hall school, has continued his run of good form by winning the best under 18 fencer medal in the men’s epee at the Merseyside Open Fencing Tournament on Sunday. Richard finished 15th overall out of a large field of 89. This competition, held at the Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool, is the largest fencing event in the north of England and attracts a very high calibre of athletes from all over the UK and even a significant number of internationals. This year the men’s epee included several top 100 British fencers and a strong contingent from Ireland, including their current number one Geoffrey Corcoran. There were also visitors from France, Italy, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Kuwait and even one from Australia.

For Richard, this is one of the largest domestic events he will compete in this year. His target was to reach the last 32 and even this seemed ambitious, given he had been knocked out in the first round last year! The competition started with two seeding rounds, the poules. In the first Richard had some very stiff opposition from several top 100 Irish internationals and although he only managed to win one fight, he contained his losses to be only by one point. Fortunately, in the second round of poules, he managed to record several wins and so avoided landing himself with a top seed in the first round of eliminators. In fact, by minimizing the point differences, Richard managed to be seeded high enough to get a bye through the first round of direct eliminations altogether.

So his first dual was with Yves Carnec from France in the last 64. Yves is a flamboyant veteran, who pressed Richard hard with fast compound attacks, but he became quickly frustrated as Richard either turned them, or converted them to double hits. Richard then gained a narrow lead with a couple of fleche attacks which he was able to hold until the last touch which was another double off Yves’ attack. In the last 32 Richard faced Liam Winstanley from Newcastle. Liam and Richard had met in the poules, where Liam had won 5-4. Richard knew he had his work cut out for him. Liam and Richard were very evenly matched, but again Richard gained and held onto a slender lead to win by a very close 15-14.

At this stage Richard was the last of the under 18’s to still remain in the tournament. In the last 16 he was drawn against Lee Ormerod from the Royal Marines. Lee was a very formidable opponent and he swiftly brought the fight to Richard who had to produce some of his finest fencing just to fend off the onslaught. After an intense opening phase, Lee realised he was not going to overwhelm Richard quickly and swapped to a defensive style. He waited for Richard to attack and then gradually scored points as he was able exploit Richard’s approaches. The last period started with Richard 8-14 down knowing the odds were now firmly against him. He gamely launched a series of attacks, but unfortunately they were beaten off and eventually Lee found another opening to score the final point he needed to win.

There were other notable local results this year with Chris Taylor from Liverpool taking the silver and also a bronze for Scot Willis and a sliver in the ladies for Katrina Smith, who although they are from Truro, currently train at Liverpool Fencing Club. Richard would like to thank Adrian Shandley of Premier Wealth Management for his continued support and also Lancashire County Council for their Champion for Young People Award.

Below: Richard Michell in action during the Merseyside Open Fencing Tournament held Sunday 22 February.

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