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Local athlete sabres victory at university fencing championships

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Pam Wright

A Point Edward woman captured this year’s gold medal in sabre at the Ontario University Women’s Fencing Championships.

“It’s nice,” said Victoria Edwards. “I put in a lot of work and it’s nice to see it pay off in the end.”

The second-year Western University law student took up the sport only six years ago while doing an undergraduate degree in life sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton.

A graduate of Sacred Heart and St. Patrick’s High School, Edwards has always played sports and was active in basketball and volleyball.

But she set aside athletics her first year at university to focus on academics, which left her “feeling out of balance,” she said.

Victoria Edwards

A fellow member of the university’s welcoming committee recruited her in second year.

“She put a sword in my hand and looked at me. I got an adrenaline rush,” Edwards said.

“I wanted to keep coming back for more.”

Sabre fencing is a relatively new sport for women, who weren’t allowed to participate until 1988 when electronics were incorporated into the scoring. Prior to advances in technology competitors had to hit their opponents.

Modern fencing is a group of three related sports, the foil, the épée and the sabre. Sabre is the only one in which points are scored using the edge of the blade.

The weapon is light and 41 inches long, making its movements quick and precise.

Competitors wear a conductive metal jacket called a lamé and points are scored when the sword makes contact.

“It’s not exactly like a swordfight but it’s pretty close,” Edwards said.

It can also be bruising sport. Although the hands aren’t a target her fingers have been split open a few times.

Although fencing is an Olympic sport athletes at that level start young and are coached one-on-one for years, she said.

In addition to individual sabre gold, Edwards and her Western teammates took team silver overall at the finals in Ottawa in February.

Edwards also won the overall sportsperson award at the OUA competition, an award named for her former coach at McMaster who championed fencing becoming a competitive sport for women in Canada.

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