Having qualified for the European and World Championships through a long and hard season, Rachael Lever and Maisie McCormack fenced incredibly well at the European Cadet Championships in Foggia (Italy) in February and the World Cadet Championships in Torun (Poland) in April. With only 4 girls being selected for the GBR team for the European Championships and 3 for the World Championships it is remarkable that two club fencers qualified together for both events.
In the European Championships, Maisie produced a solid first round, securing wins against opponents from Ukraine, Spain and Norway to have a 3 win 3 loss first round to safely negotiate the round. Rachael beat opponents from France, Italy and Portugal for a 3 win 2 loss round and also secure a direct elimination spot.
Maisie entered the direct elimination round of 128 as 55th seed, but was unable to get through the round, losing to a Macedonian fencer 15-9 to finish 67th place. Rachael slightly higher seed of 39th meant she secured a bye through the 128 round and so reached the last 64 where she met Belarus fencer Lizaveta Zaretskaya. In a match which was fairly close throughout, Rachael missed out on the win, losing 15-11 to finish 46th in Europe.
In the team event, Rachael and Maisie fenced through the whole event as part of the GBR team and with great team wins in the first match against Austria 45-29 and final match against Greece 45-40 they secured a 15th place.
Following another couple of months of hard training, the World Championships took place in Torun, Poland in April. With only an Individual event for cadets, a single day of fencing was all that was available for our fencers.
Maisie started the day on great form, equalling her best ever International first round poule result with impressive wins against opponents from Egypt, Malaysia, Australia and Finland and only losing to fencers from Japan and Czech Republic. This took Maisie safely through the round ranked 42nd out of 118 fencers. Rachael’s poule looked to be starting well, leading European medallist Klasik 3-1, but fell away to lose her first 2 fights. A win against a Belarus fencer got her on the board, but 2 more losses saw Rachael on the cusp of a first round knock out. Needing a very strong result against Amer from Egypt, Rachael started well leading 3-0, then two doubles took Rachael to a 5-2 win and leave her on the border of qualification or not, with 30% cut from the event.
Both fencers got through but lady luck effected them in different ways. Rachael qualified through as = final place to qualify in 88 tied with 88 qualifying through the round, one hit less and she would have been cut. Maisie safely through. missed out on a bye straight into the last 64 by just a few spots, one more hit in one fight would have made all the difference.
In the last 128, both fencers started at the same time, Maisie fencing against Nellija Mihejeva from Latvia and Rachael against Karoliina Komissarova from Estonia. Maisie started well puling out a 4 hit lead during the fight and lead by 2 hits going into the final period, however she was unable to hold the lead lost out 15-12 to end up as the highest seed to miss out on a last 64 place. Rachael had to raise her game against the 40th seed Estonian. Solid fencing throughout built Rachael a lead and she went on to win 15-13 to reverse the seedings and take her place in the round of last 64.
The last 64 saw Rachael start well against 25th Seed Saito from Japan, leading 7-5 at the first break. The second did not go so well with Saito scoring 5 unanswered hits to take the score to 7-10 in Saito’s favour. A closer 3rd period, where Rachael had to push, went 5-4 to Saito’s advantage and finish with a 15-11 score-line. Saito went on to finished 11th place after 2 further DE wins.
The final placings for the girls saw Rachael in 64th and Maisie just one place lower in 65th in the World.
Though I am sure both girls would have loved to have gone further in both events, they did fence well and a hit here or there could have made a huge difference on final positions, but I feel that both fenced really well and should be very proud of their first performances at this level of competitions.