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  • Northside West

Fencing elite to do battle in Dublin

Thursday, 24th October, 2019 7:59am
Fencing elite to do battle in Dublin

Paul Ryan-Begley is looking forward Irish Open Fencing Championships this weekend.

Fencing elite to do battle in Dublin

Paul Ryan-Begley is looking forward Irish Open Fencing Championships this weekend.

THE road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics passes through Dublin for some of the world’s top fencers at the Irish Open Fencing Championships this weekend.

Athletes from Argentina, Australia, Great Britain, USA, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Netherlands to name but a few will be competing alongside the Irish Men’s Epee Senior team at the National Sports Arena, Blanchardstown, on October 26/27.

This will be the 13th year running that the Irish Open Fencing Championships includes a Men’s Epee FIE Satellite event, which offers fencers from all over the world a chance to gain world-ranking points towards Olympic qualification.

And local lad Paul-Ryan Begley will be looking forward more than most to the event that’s taking place close to his hometown of Rathcoole.

Fencing isn’t the first choice of sport for most of Ryan-Begley’s peers, but he liked the ideal of the sport and recognized its uniqueness. While attending Trinity College he joined the Dublin University Fencing Club and almost immediately excelled at the sport, winning Men's Epee competitions Novice nationwide in 2017 and 2018. 

Ryan-Begley (ranked 24 in Ireland) will be taking on the challenge of sparing against the best and soaking up all the experience necessary to make it on the international circuit.

Although still very much a minority sport Fencing Ireland chairman, Des Gilhooly, has reasons to be hopeful for its future.

“We are beginning to see the blossoming of young talent at a junior (under 20) and cadet (under 17) level where young Irish fencers are in turn starting to make their mark abroad,” he explained.

Attracting top athletes from abroad to compete in the Irish Open is part of Fencing Ireland’s strategy to raise the level of competition for Irish fencers.

“We are looking to encourage and develop our young athletes to one day compete at the highest international level and I believe it’s working,” says Gilhooly.

“This is part of a deliberate strategy from the sport’s national governing body to nurture young Irish talent and build a sustainable base for the sport.

“There are a myriad of benefits to fencing from fitness and sporting standpoint – balance, power, anaerobic and aerobic fitness but it also engages the grey-matter through tactical and mental awareness.

“All of that wrapped in the framework of respect and discipline coming from the great tradition in this Olympic sport.”

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