Monday, May 13, 2019

En Garde

Anyone who grew up on Star Wars is likely to have imagined challenging their nemesis to a duel with a lightsaber.

And now, in France at least, the dream can come true and the force can be with you – after the French Fencing Federation registered lightsaber dueling as an official sport. 

Fencing already has three very different weapons – foil, epee and sabre – which are disciplines up to Olympic level.

But now the lightsaber offers a fourth, which the national fencing authorities hope will win new converts to the sport.

“When the world of fiction transforms into sport, it can only be positive”, said Olivier Hanicotte, head of the lightsaber project at the FFE. 

He said the idea first came from the United States in 2013-2014 before becoming popular in French fencing halls. 

“Then the federation took over to secure and regulate it, because at one point, there were a lot of security concerns, with people not necessarily wearing masks or protection”, he said. 

The FFE has even created its own lightsaber academy to structure training, organise competitions and ensure safety. Hanicotte said the idea was not to find a novel way to attract people to traditional fencing but to develop a specific sport. 

The strategy seems to have paid off – in just two years, the number of participants counted by the FFE has quadrupled, with some 1,200 people now training in 92 clubs. 

Malaysian Fencing Federation should take up the challenge too!

And here’s news on a sport that I’m following – more so if it involves Nicol David and Low Wee Wern.

National squash player Nicol David’s challenge in the Manchester Squash Open (May 09-13, 2019) ended in the second round. The 35-year-old legend (left) went down 7-11, 9-11, 11-6, 6-11 to world No. 6 and home favourite Sarah-Jane Perry in 43 minutes on Friday in England, UK. 

Prior to the above, Nicol David also crashed out in the second round of the El Gouna International Squash Open (April 17-26, 2019) in Egypt – going down in straight sets 4-11, 9-11, 8-11 to Egypt’s world No. 1 Raneem El Welily. 

The pair have met 27 times since 2001 with David winning 18 times. 

One more event for Nicol David before her retirement – she plays in the prestigious British Open in Hull from May 20-26.

Meanwhile, Low Wee Wern (right) lost 6-11, 13-11, 11-13, 4-11 to Hong Kong’s Annie Au of Hong Kong at the Asian Squash Championships individual event in Kuala Lumpur (May 01-05, 2019), 

The previous month also saw her coming unstuck at the final hurdle of the Macau Squash Open (April 10-14, 2019). Low’s bid to win her biggest PSA final in seven years ended with a 5-11, 11-13, 8-11 defeat again at the hands of Au, the current world No. 11.

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