This year the 2013 USA Fencing National Championships will be held in Columbus, Ohio. USA Fencing is the recognized National Governing Body for the Olympic sport of fencing in the United States. This event will be held from June 28 to July 7 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
The championship, which is the largest fencing tournament of any kind in the world, will host 4,000 participants between the ages of nine and 90 and 400 teams. Only fencers who meet the qualification criteria of USA Fencing are eligible to compete in the Summer Nationals.
An impressive group of 20 fencers from the Illinois Fencers Club (IFC), most of whom are trained by coach Ina Harizanova, qualified to participate in this challenging tournament. The IFC fencers will compete in foil and epee in multiple age categories. The 20 IFC athletes, 12 of whom are members of the IFC Youth Program, will participate in total of 22 events (one to four events per fencer).
The youngest IFC fencer going to the Championship, Misha Romanov (from Glenview), is 11 years old, while the oldest, Bob Baldwin (from Palatine), is in his 70s. Misha, one of the youngest competing IFC fencers, believes that fencing is "fun and healthy for (his) body". It teaches him "quick action and reaction, as well as concentration." He trains 2-3 times per week and likes the Illinois Fencers Club "a lot because of (his) coach Ina Harizanova and the kids".
Bob Baldwin began fencing in 1953 with some "breaks between then and 2000 when (he) began fencing once again on regular basis." He likes "everything (about fencing): comradeship, competition, recreation, exercise, travel to tournaments, etc." Bob calls Illinois Fencers Club his "fencing home - friendly and comfortable, not pretentious" and plans to fence and compete as long as he is able to. He is also the very caring president of this non-for-profit organization.
What is unique and interesting about Illinois Fencers Club, aside from the dedicated and high-quality training, is the age span of the athletes. The veterans provide support, care and guidance for the kids, fostering a very close and family-like atmosphere at the club. It is a great opportunity for young fencers to practice and interact with veteran and senior fencers on a daily basis. They mentor and encourage the young fencers throughout the year. Their rich competitive fencing and life experiences serve as an excellent resource for the youngsters in enhancing their growth and development in this challenging Olympic sport. Bob Baldwin is one example of the resources the IFC veterans bring into the club. As a former winner of the Masters One-Touch Epee tournament and a member of the 2001 Veterans World Cup team competing in Martinique, Bob has many years of experience to draw on and share with the younger fencers.
Veterans also set a great example of persistence and the importance and fun of teamwork. There will be two IFC veteran men's epee teams competing at the National Championships: John Lartz, Tim Glass, Dave Swanson are on the first team, while the second team includes Bob Baldwin, Dave St. George and Dick Dunlop. In the senior men's epee team, IFC will be represented by Maciek Zmyslowski, Gabe Weininger and Misha Heber, a team that finished in 4th place at the last year's National Championships.
Maciek Zmyslowski (age 22, from Des Plaines) is also competing in DIV IA men's epee, after winning a silver medal in this event last year.
The Illinois Fencers Club promotes and teaches the Olympic sport of fencing to students of all ages and skill levels and provides a friendly venue for members to practice their sport. It is a member operated non-for-profit sports association that has been serving beginning, recreational, and competitive fencers for more than 40 years. The club meets in the Lions Recreation Center, 411 S. Maple St., Mt. Prospect, IL and can be found at www.IFCfencing.org and on their Facebook page.