On Saturday we had the poules. Started fencing at 2pm, all done shortly after 2:30. I didn't really feel like I'd fenced at all (although my legs disagreed).
I was a bit annoyed with myself, I could have fenced better. Managed one win and got at least one point against every opponent, but should have been able to get two wins. In the first bout I was quickly 4-0 down, but then came back to 4-4 before losing the last point. I needed to be more aggressive sooner.
I always suffer from nerves when I move up a competition level, and this time was no exception. I tried to keep it under control, but having adrenalin shakes during the warm-up stretching is a bit of a giveaway that it isn't working. I think all I really managed to do was overlay a filter on the usual bundle of nerves, which at least had the effect of muting the worst of the overreactions but didn't allow me to fence particularly well.
David videoed me fencing, I was pleased to note that I didn't seem particularly out of place - actually had a bit of trouble working out which one was me in a couple of bouts. On the strip however I felt rather vague, slow and generally unimpressive.
Anyway, I scraped through the cut by the skin of my teeth, 62nd of 62 being promoted. I had met my bare-minimum goal. Had one bruise from an American who wasn't happy with me getting a couple of surprise early hits, but was otherwise unscathed.
Back before all that was weapons check (I missed doing it the night before when it took longer to get back from the B&B7 pub meet than we expected). No major problems, but one of my hilts was struggling to fit in the gauge. Guess it was the new padding. Will have to tighten it down a bit further before getting it checked again.
Post comp I cheered myself up by buying a new glove. The old one is still ok, but a hole has appeared in the thumb so it will not me long before it needs replacing. It lasted over 4 years, so I'm pretty happy about that. My previous gloves were cheaper, but since they didn't usually make 2 years the LP glove is the better buy.
Sunday was the DE. I was on the strip at 9:15 sharp to face the Hungarian 3rd seed, #18 in the world at the moment. Naturally she won easily, 4-15, but my 4 hits were good hits!
She was very fast, with very smooth actions. I couldn't even get a simultaneous attack much less beat her to it, so gave up on that pretty quickly and concentrated on trying to parry, or at least make some blade contact, mixed with the occasional attack when I thought I could get away with it. There were a lot of mal-parries where I got the contact but was just a little too late or too close so got hit anyway. Possibly with a whole lot of work I could turn some of those into my points. I think I could probably have done more with mixing up tempo, I suspect I was being a little too predictable.
The referee said I fenced quite well, my opponent was just exceptionally good, so that was nice.
From the murky depths of memory I recalled a footwork drill for promoting fast relaxed footwork while I was warming up. This was much needed, and did help improve my footwork over the previous day where I was all tense. Shall need to do more of that.
That was my competition over by 9:30, but I stuck around to watch. The Americans were there in force, including the current world champion. I watch the GB team members getting bundled out, the Germans and French putting up a bit more of a fight.
Interesting to note that while the Americans have a habit of attacking from a very low position near the knee to good effect, they tend not to do it to one another so much. Presumably they've worked out how to deal with it even if most other people haven't yet.
There's nothing like being there as a competitor to help you realise that while these are exceptionally good fencers, they're not perfect. Ultimately they're doing the same things as everyone else, keeping mostly to the basics, just doing it faster and, mostly, with smooth control and sharp execution. It helps you see what is achievable, which both inspires me to pay a bit more attention to training again, and quickly dispels those new-competition nerves so they're not likely to bother me again.
Now I want to try again and prove I can do better than I did.
My original plan had been to stay for the final, then head to the airport on the shuttle bus. However it turned out that they didn't expect to get to Heathrow until after 5pm, too late for my 5:25 flight, so I had to leave after the final eight round and play with London public transport. Was checked in and through security buy 4pm, but if I'd tried to stay for the finals (after the one hour drinks break) then I may have been late so just as well I didn't stay longer.
So, not a whole lot of fencing there. But I do have two more world cup points (Bert & Ernie), which apparently means I am now 198th in the world rankings, and second highest of the five Australians listed. The person ahead of me is only two points ahead (a much better fencer, but hasn't been competing much lately for some reason).
I think that also means I'll be reappearing on the Australian rankings, and probably earning a bunch of UK ranking points as well. Not bad for an hour spent getting beaten up by some very good fencers.
I have a few competition-free weeks until the Edinburgh Satellite. I should really try and get a lesson some time...