Jó napot peeps!
So last weekend I fenced my first Senior World Cup. I know what you’re thinking 22 and only just fencing your first world cup Steph… what a chump.
Now that I’m living in Budapest, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel with the Hungarians to Germany for the competition. And let me tell you, travelling with a legit team (even if they’re not actually my team) was awesome. The drive roughly took 10ish hours to get to Tauberbischofsheim, stopping a couple of times along the way for toi toi breaks, or as I like to call them wifi breaks 😉
So the deal is with most world cups, is that you fence the pools and any prelim tables on the Friday, the round of 64 through to the finals is on the Saturday, and then the team event is held on the Sunday. So we travelled on Thursday.
Weapons control was ridiculously weird. They only tested gloves, lames and masks… body wires and your foils were completely ignored. Which was super strange, but at the same time kinda cool. Like if your stuff doesn’t work and you turn up on the piste with it, then you kinda deserve to be carded. It just teaches you, that you need to be responsible with your own gear, and make sure everything is working before you compete (including making sure your foils hold weight!).
No big deal, but there were 17 pools… there were so many that the start times were staggered at 9am and 11am. I fenced my pool at 9am, which to be honest was better than starting at 11am. It meant the entire venue was free for everyone to warm up, and if you wanted someone to do a warm up bout with, you didn’t have to worry about if they were fencing in a pool or not already…
Once all of the pools had finished the preliminary table took place, and that lead to the fencers who would compete in the 64 the next day. So it’s actually pretty confusing to understand how this works… I’ll try and explain it the best way I can (if I’m wrong, my bad): the top 16 fencers in the world according to the FIE ranking list are exempt from pools, and are automatically promoted to the table of 64. Also the top 16 from the pools are automatically promoted to the next day. Unfortunately the bottom 20% is cut so normally you have to win two bouts to make the cut. Leaving the rest to fence in the preliminary table, until there are 32 fencers left. The completely ridiculous thing though is if you fenced your pool at 9am, the first prelim round of DEs didn’t start until roughly 2:45pm! That’s a crazy long time to be hanging around waiting to fence, and remember this is just the first day.
The next day for the table of 64 is even more crazy. For the 64 onwards they only use coloured pistes, meaning there’s only four pistes for all of the matches. Which means it’s so slow. The way that the run the bouts is pretty efficient though. Each match is allocated a time and the only start the bouts at that time, regardless of if the previous bout finishes earlier. So this means the first match may be at 8:30am, but the last match of the 64 might not be until 11:30am. So you basically just turn up to the venue with enough time to warm up before your personal start time.
Unfortunately I didn’t make the cut after pools, it’s something I’m still working on achieving. And it’s ridiculously hard. Personally I think that cutting the bottom 20% from pools is something we should consider implementing in New Zealand, even if just at Nationals. I get that we don’t exactly have large numbers of competitors, but it encourages you to really fight in pools. We seem to have this attitude of ‘oh it’s just pools, I’ll make up for it in the DE’. But if you truly fudge up in pools here then you simply won’t get a chance to fix it in the DE. It’s a good learning lesson.
Coming to competitions like this one, just motivates me even more. If you get the chance to go to any competition, anywhere in the World I employ you to do it. Regardless of if it’s a local competition, or something like World Champs. Even if you get you butt whooped, the experience you’ll gain is 100% worthwhile.