In the heart of the Athletic Centre, the men’s and women’s varsity fencing teams practice in preparation for the national championships. The fencing program, which first competed in 1937, is coming off of a successful competition at the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championships.
The men’s sabre team won gold, and both foill teams walked away with silver medals.
Along with the team’s success, Andrew Wang won the individual sabre gold, a feat that has only been achieved by a U of T athlete twice in the last 35 years.
Veteran fencers Alison Doyle and Tom Blazejewski described the team as a “tight–knit community.” The men’s and women’s teams practice together in order to better train and challenge each other. Blazejewski emphasized the importance of shared experience between the two teams and how the team focuses on development rather than housing already-established fencers.
Despite the teams’ recent successes, the women’s team continues to struggle with some challenges. Although the men’s team has continued to be a strong contender for the past two decades, the women’s team is struggling with recruitment. Unfortunately, as head coach Thomas Nguyen explained, “Graduating women were not being replaced as quickly with rookies as the men’s team.” Although there continues to be a strong core group of athletes on the team, the need for athletic women to take up the sword remains.
Like many other teams, the problem of space and funding for equipment at the this level remains; the team is mostly self-financed by the athletes. Despite the obstacles that the members face, the team recognizes its room to grow and its strong future.