Brill still enjoys the cut and thrust of competing

By David Ogilvie

Martin Brill has been three-times named as a New Zealand Olympic fencing competitor _ but competed only twice.

Like so many in 1980, Brill was named to compete in Moscow but missed the Games when New Zealand boycotted the Games after Russia invaded Afghanistan.

But there was, thankfully, more to come for the epee exponent who returns to Wanganui for the New Zealand Masters after competing once at the Games _ way back in 1993.

He's a remarkable athlete, having won his first New Zealand title in the 1970s, and has won further titles in each decade since then. His appearance is a coup for fencing, which itself is making a return to the Games after being missing for some time. He has four opponents.

Christchurch's Brill explains his career: ``My career high point was being part of the NZ Olympic team to the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games where I placed seventh in the individual men's epee. This came after the disappointment of having been selected for the 1980 Olympics and not being able to go due to the boycott of the Games.

``I lived and trained in France from 1983 onwards. I was a late inclusion to the 1984 Olympic team [Los Angeles] and placed 15th, repaying the Olympic Committee with an acceptable first-time performance.''

He won his first national title in 1979 and has won titles in every decade since then. Now it's Masters fencing, which, he says, is a little different.

``I won the fencing when it was first in the Dunedin Masters Games [1992] and the Wanganui Masters Games [1993]. Two decades later while refereeing the 2012 World Masters Fencing Championships in Sydney I saw for the first time the styles and characteristics that make Masters fencing exciting and different to open fencing. It is simple. It is a return to the basics, the simple fundamental skills everyone learns at the very beginning. With age, experience and wisdom it is a powerful combination.

``Since 2010 I have being a Masters fencer, enjoying the challenge of refining my fencing, perfecting the basics, fencing with less strength, power and endurance yet still effective in playing the fencing game.

``I am excited to be returning to Wanganui. It is 20 years since I last fenced at the Wanganui Masters Games. Each year the Masters fencing is tougher.

``For the moment I have put aside the idea of defending the title I won last year in Dunedin. I am focused on my personal challenge, to fence to the best of my ability.''

To this end, over the summer he has been training with Quin Downs, the Oceania Masters Champion for 60-plus.

``We always have a good tussle. It keeps me fit, it keeps me interested.'' Footnote: Fencing is held on February 9-10 at the old St Georges campus, now the YMCA.-->

- Wanganui Chronicle

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