Photo: (Left)Richard Michell
On Saturday at the Cumberland Open in Carlisle, Richard Michell, a pupil at Scarisbrick Hall School, won his second bronze medal in an adult tournament. Richard, who has only just finished his GCSEs on Friday, had concerns about his fitness having not fenced for a couple of months due to his exams. Fortunately though, over half-term, Richard had performed in a production of ‘Hairspray’ at the Southport Little Theatre and it seems that practising the dance routines for this proved sufficient to keep him in reasonable shape!
All fencing events start with seeding fights, called the poules. These are used to determine the rankings for the direct elimination fights that follow. Richard had somewhat mixed results in the poules, winning three but loosing three as well. However, he quickly put any disappointment from this behind him and focused on the task of winning the elimination fights.
In the last 16 Richard drew Joss Horn, a student from Aberdeen, who was ranked similarly to Richard. Joss tried to use his reach advantage to land straight hits passed Richard’s guard. However, Richard quickly adapted to this by blocking the attacks and immediately reposting before Joss could recover. This combined with other fast counter attacks on Joss’ preparation enabled Richard to dominate the contest, winning by a commanding 15-6.
Unfortunately, due to his low ranking, Richard’s next opponent was the tournament’s top seed, Mark Lauchlan from the Wallace Fencing Academy. Mark, who in April won the silver medal at the Glasgow Open, expected a routine win from this fight with an unknown teenager from Lancashire! He started with a series of rapid fleche attacks to bring the fight to a swift conclusion, but he was surprised to find them largely parried or countered. Richard grew in confidence as he realised he could withstand the onslaught and swapped to launching attacks of his own. This gradually brought the scores back to level. Then with time ebbed away in the last period and Richard one point ahead, Mark’s attacks became more desperate and Richard extended his lead. The fight finished with Richard pulling off a cheeky foot hit for a final score of 15-12.
In the semifinals Richard met Jonathan Bullock who is Northumbria University’s epee team captain. By the end of the first period, it looked as though it was going to be a bloodbath with the score at 7-2 to Jonathan. However, in the second period, Richard started fighting back and he found that Jonathan was far less effective on the back foot and so Richard worked his way back into the contest and the fight went to a third period. Unfortunately, Jonathan’s early lead proved too great and the match ended with a final score of 15-12. Jonathan then went on to win the final and a well deserved gold medal.
Richard would like to thank his coach David Stobbs, who continues to draw a more focused performance from him and also 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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