It was a productive week for the Red Deer Fencing Club (RDFC), which hosted their annual Red Deer Open tournament at Grandview Elementary School in Red Deer last weekend.
RDFC had an excellent showing over the two day long event.
“In this competition we got 12 medals in total,” said Petar Toshkov, the head coach of the RDFC.
“Our Club has probably been one of the best clubs in the last seven years in Western Canada and definitely in Alberta in epee. Because there are some clubs that have foil and sabre as well, but in epee we dominate definitely.”
The Red Deer Fencing Club was started in 1995 and grew out of the Alberta Modern Pentathlon Association, who promoted the sport as one of the events in their pentathlon.
“It actually started as a pentathlon club, and then it became a fencing club. It used to be sabre and foil as well but now we just do epee, we just focus on one weapon,” said Toshkov, referring to the three weapons that are used in modern fencing.
Epee is the oldest of the three weapons and the only one that the RDFC uses. Epee fencing was one of only seven sports that were included in the first Olympic Games.
“There are two more Olympic weapons, which are foil and sabre, but they were introduced a little bit later, like in the 1920s, 1930s at the Olympics,” Toshkov said.
While Red Deer Fencing Club isn’t quite that old, Toshkov said they have still seen their share of successes over the years.
“We had a few kids that were on the national team, we had lots of national medals, Western Championship medals and lots of provincial medals, like we were dominating the province in the last five or six years.”
With just two months remaining in the RDFC’s competitive season, Toshkov said that Red Deer’s representatives have been hard at work getting ready for the provincial meet, which takes place in Blackfalds at the end of April.
“We do our regular training. So we meet four to five days at the Club and most of the weekends we have competitions here in Alberta.”
There are six circuit events that take place in Alberta every year that count towards the national standings.
“Basically if you qualify well on those events, those points count towards the national points.”
Although RDFC has had students qualify in the top five nationally in the past, including a few who ranked number one, there are no Red Deerians on that list this year.
Part of the reason, Toshkov said, is Alberta’s economy, which has limited the Club’s ability to travel to different events around the country.
“We travel quite a lot. We find that lately, since the economy’s getting pretty bad, lots of parents don’t have the money to afford to send their kids because travelling in Canada is quite expensive,” he said, adding because of those limitations the Club hasn’t been able to compete as much.
“Last year we had a couple of kids that were top three. Right now we don’t because they don’t compete as much because of the financial things. But they’re still doing pretty good.”
After the provincial championships, the Club’s focus will shift to the Western Championships in Saskatoon in mid-May before finally wrapping up the season at the end of May with nationals in Quebec.
“Then after that there are no more competitions. We take just the summer off.”
Toshkov added that the club is always looking for new members for next season.
“Fencing is a lot different from other sports. Fencing develops a lot of abilities, that’s why it takes a long time to learn. It’s quite complicated. It teaches a lot of discipline, a lot of strategy, you have to be quick,” he said.
Anyone interested in getting involved in the RDFC can check out their web site at www.red-deer-fencing-club.com or can call the Club directly at 403-358-6828.