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  • Southside

Fencing in the frame

Saturday, 14th September, 2019 4:00pm
Fencing in the frame

Philip Lee recently became the first Irishman to win a gold medal in the European Fencing Championships.

Fencing in the frame

Philip Lee recently became the first Irishman to win a gold medal in the European Fencing Championships.

WITH the focus of last week’s World Fencing Day on mental health and the environment we profile Dublin lawyer, Philip Lee, who recently became the first Irishman to win a gold medal in the European Fencing Championships.

The Southsider, who is a Pembroke Fencing Club member, defeated two-time world champion Paul Wedge in the Veteran category.

It was a proud day for Fencing Ireland as never before had Amhrán na bhFiann been played at an International fencing competition.

Q1: Why did you start fencing and what age were you?

I started fencing at about seven years of age. My school, St Conleth’s College offered fencing and rugby. I did both. I continued fencing however for the next 54 years bar a few gaps when I pursued sailing. After a few cracked ribs I gave up rugby.

Q2: Did you fence during College?

I fenced very intensely during college. In fact, I did little else! It was during college that I trained for the junior world championships in Vienna. I finished in the top 25 and trained very intensely during that period. I then studied for a Master’s degree in Bruges and when I was there, I fenced constantly in the nearby beautiful town of Ghent.

Q3: What do you enjoy most about fencing?

Total physical workout and complete mental concentration is required. It involves fascinating tactics and challenging psychology. It is competitive effort at its highest level. Whilst the basic intention is to hit your opponent with a sword it nevertheless involves great comradery and very high standards of protocol and sportsmanship.

Q4: Do you play any other sport?

I cycle and I sail and I swim in the sea all year round.

Q5: What has been your greatest achievement / highlight in your fencing career so far?

I showed modest talent between the ages of 16 and 20 when I had a credible result in the world junior championships and achieved a bronze medal in the European student games. Whilst I would have national and university titles in the period between 20 and 60, it could be argued that that was a fallow period! Clearly winning the gold medal in the European veterans’ championships in May of this year in France is a considerable highlight.

Q.6: What is your favourite fencing event to attend?

Actually, my favourite event is probably training camps. Camps are unbelievably demanding. I’ve just returned from a camp in Poland and I think I probably lost one kilo per day. It is intense, exhausting but great fun.

Q. 7: What would you say to a young fencer starting out?

Participate in several sports. Fencing will add to your performance in the other sports. It requires extraordinarily speed of reaction, it requires flexibility, it requires analysis similar to chess but with decision taken in nano seconds not minutes. If you are continuing fencing, I would say take lessons as often as you can.

Q. 8: What do you believe to be the benefits of fencing?

Fencing has ensured I maintain a high level of fitness. It is the perfect stress buster. It keeps you intellectually sharp. It is a game of the mind as much as the body.

Q. 9: Who is your favourite sports person of all time and why?

Roger Federer. He epitomises sportsmanship and always complements his opponents.

For more information contact Olga at Pembroke Fencing Club – St Conleths College, Ballsbridge. Tel 086 2160646

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