Great mix of competitors

By Zac Yates

Fencing may only be in its second year at the Wanganui Masters Games but the competition still attracted top players from around the country.

Bryan Clark was the winner of the Central Championships in April and came third in the Nationals during October, but this was his first Masters Games.

"I only just turned 35 which meant I'm old enough now to enter, but my girlfriend had a hard time believing I was old enough to be in the Masters," he said.

Clark, who has been fencing on and off since he was 12, said one of the great things about his first Masters Games was the mix of competitors.

"It's amazing to look around and see who's competing. We have five or six head coaches from around the country, an Olympian, and a Commonwealth veteran. It's such a great combination of really good people."

One of those people was Susan Grant-Taylor, who won silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Fencing Championship in Melbourne. She started fencing in 1964 at high school and began coaching two years later.

"It got to the point where the teachers left and there was no one else to do it. We didn't whinge about it, I just got stuck into it and have been coaching ever since.

"It takes up a lot of time and money, it gets quite expensive getting all the equipment so I tend to focus more on that side of it rather than attending competitions. I still love competing but these days I'm in it more for fun," she said.

Grant-Taylor said she had attended a few Masters Games in Wanganui, including the first in 1989, and the social aspect was a major reason behind coming back.

"So many friends come up too and it's so great to be able to see each other here and catch up. Plus having fencing in the games is a really good way to publicise the sport. They've done such a marvellous job organising it here and we've all voted for them to have it again in the future.

"Some of us veterans have competed in loads and loads of competitions and this one has been so good and we've totally loved it."

Another old hand competing yesterday was Christchurch man Martin Brill, who represented New Zealand at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games. He too had been fencing since secondary school.

"I've only been doing the Masters game for a couple of years. It's quite different to how you play when you're younger, with the kids it's all speed and strength, whizzing everywhere. Playing against others of similar age it's more comfortable as you can draw from your own experience and almost anticipate what they'll do next."

Like everyone else Brill said he would be back in 2015.

"I'd love to be here, as long as my creaking bones still hold together I will. I'll even fence from a wheelchair if I have to."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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