Outside of the classroom our talented students are involved in a wide variety of activities, pursing their passions in drama, music and sport as well as showing their support for local and national charities. For Year 8 student Stephanie Currie the appeal of fencing’s tactical and mental challenge led her to take up the sport aged seven. Developing and perfecting her agility and speed in a sport described as physical chess has led Stephanie to compete and excel at national and international competitions.
What attracted you to fencing?
My grandpa Dave fenced for the Army. I wanted to do an activity or sport that was tactical and mentally challenging. It is known as physical chess and it’s very rewarding to have worked out an opponent’s moves.
Do you have a favourite style of Fencing? Why that particular style?
I like Foil due to it requiring skill and mental agility rather than just strength. I have fenced Epee in the past too and still retain North West Champion Titles in both foil and epee for U14. There comes a time that you have to choose between weapons otherwise your techniques for one type of weapon can impact on how you fence the other.
How many hours training do you have to do prior to a competition?
I train three nights a week in Liverpool and Manchester which can be tiring. The footwork classes are particularly challenging but it is very important to maintain agility and speed. In fencing your legs are your engine. If you can’t be fast enough you won’t be in the right distance zone from your opponent to score the hit or sometimes avoid the hit.
How often do you compete?
There are many competitions across fencing but it works out at the moment at roughly one in every two weekends although sometimes they can get bunched up, particularly in GB Cadet Season which is U17 and qualifies for GB national selection. I have to be more selective now to plan for competitions which could help my selection rankings. Competitions take place right across the country which means lots of travel and hotels.
You recently competed at a competition in Paris, what was the overall experience like?
It’s a prestigious international tournament Championnat du Monde where fencers come from all over the world. It’s called Le Marathon Fleuret as it’s so tough it’s exhausting – really like a marathon and after the longest day ever you start again at 6 a.m. the following morning. If you make it through the elimination cuts that is! It’s a great experience as you get to fence the best in the world and it’s an opportunity to learn from your opponent, such as their techniques. There are countries there where the fencers are trained by the state such as the Russian Olympic School and the Chinese State Fencing School.
What is your greatest achievement to date within the sport?
I have fenced at British Youth Championships finals and English Youth Championship finals and have many medals and trophies from so many competitions, including North West Champion in two weapons and wins at Scotland Foil and Welsh National Foil. I’m really excited that new opportunities are opening up and I am finding success in these new older age group categories. I can now fence in adult Open competitions and Cadet U17 and Juniors U20. I also represented the North West in the Cadet Winton Tournament which is held at Millfield School. I have also been selected to represent NW counties at the Excalibur Cup in Bath this summer. I recently competed in the Merseyside Open adult competition and finished 15th despite being the youngest competitor by three years and one of only three who were U18. I have also qualified for the British Youth Championship again this year which is held at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield over the May bank holiday. 4000 fencers over three days! It’s a lovely atmosphere.
What are your ambitions for the sport?
I would like to get into the GB U17 team and I am working towards it although I have a few years to get there!
I really enjoy this sport and would encourage anyone who would like to give it a go. In the words of Game of Thrones Arya Stark’s fencing instructor ….“first lesson – stick em with the pointy end!”