Monday, January 07, 2008

Copenhagen and Getting Out of the Rut

The Universiades, despite being a fantastic and unforgettable experience, had been a disappointment in terms of fencing. This had been mainly because of a lack of training in advance of the competition. It wasn't from lack of searching that I didn't have training but with my own club closed and the international teams which I approached not particularly bothered with allowing me into their squad training. Anyway, that's something I'll go into in more detail when I eventually get round to updating that whole chapter of last year.

This was the culmination of a tough season with a lot of world cups where, while I felt that my fencing was improving massively, I had failed to transfer that into results in competition. So between that and whatever was going on in my private life from August and the months following, I hadn't been in the best of form and was finding it very difficult to turn things on at competition time. Moreover I was beginning to be frustrated by this situation and really pushing things to much while on the piste, which was only making things worse.

As I'd mentioned in previous entries I was feeling pretty down after a great christmas to be heading back to Paris but I was determined to make it a good year. I arrived back on the Wednesday 2nd and had a training session on the 3rd before leaving for Copenhagen on the 4th.

The trip to Copenhagen was to be uneventful. Copenhagen is quite a strange airport - it's more like a giant shopping mall that plains happen to take off from. I got into Copenhagen central station reasonably late. Stephen made up the other 50% of the Irish team for this competition and I was sharing a hotel room with him very near the venue.

We got a reasonably early night before the individual comp the next day after failing to be able to hook up my Ipod to the TV.


The next morning, we met the Finnish team at breakfast, and made the short but nonetheless freezing journey across to the venue, which was a nice modern sport centre maybe 100 metres from the hotel.

The first round of poules went all right for me (practice round anyway) but I dropped one fight against an Austrian. Woke up in the second round and won all my matches and was seeded second going into the tournament proper.

This gave me a buy through the first round. As it happened I was to fence the winner between Stephen and the ex-Scottish international Stewart Watson, who now lives in Copenhagen. Stewart was at 14-7 or something like it before Stephen mounted a miraculous comeback... but only to 14-all. Stewart took the last point and I was to face him in the last 16.

I suppose it's only fair to mention he was a bit ill but I was able to beat him in the 16 without too much fuss and book my place in the last 8. In the last 8 I was against a young Turk and while the match started well, I went to pieces after the break - the problems of the last couple of months crept back in and I was snatching at attacks from way out of range and wasting my preparations.

So I finished 5th overall (got my 1 FIE point - woop) but I got some good advice from Stewart during my quarter final match which I've really taken to heart since. He seems to be becoming an excellent coach. We agreed to fence the team competition the next day together - not that I was to be much use to the team as it turned out...


Going with hair-gel rather than a hat that night turned out to be a mistake. I don't know where that wind was coming from but it was cold.

We all met up in... ugh... an Irish pub near the city centre (I vaguely remember spending a very drunken night there two years previously). There was a good crowd out with the Dutch, Islandic, Finnish and erm... the one Scot and two Irish that there were in attendance.

After a couple of drinks there we went next door to a nice indian place. More beers... and curry! Fantastic!

When we finally left the Indian it had been snowing but for some reason I was feeling the cold as much...

First half-hearted snowball fight of the night and on to a small rocker bar nearby. I remember declaring "sausage factory" upon it and we didn't stay there that long. Maybe only one or two drinks. Ugh...

Another walk to another Irish bar... a real Oirish Irish bar aswell... another snowball fight on the way, I think. Straw on the floor, long benches and tables... the worst cover band of all time at whom I became more and more incensed as the night went on. Lost track of drinks, of what I was talking about. Met some Irish people I think. More drink. Talking pure crap.

Talking to some Danish girls. I think. Inability to walk at this stage also ruled out dancing but Stephen was well on for it. God knows what he was dancing to with that terrible band.

Left at closing time and embarked on one of the longest and coldest journeys home of all time. There were snowball fights, but not sure of much past that.


Woke up the next morning at around 11ish with my alarm. For several minutes was very puzzled as to the location of Stephen... until I remembered he'd left for the airport several hours earlier. With the serious business of the individual competition out of the way, the friendly competition was today.

I managed to drag my carcass over to the venue. My reactions were unfortunately slightly dulled that day. We were generously donated a absolute muppet by the German team, who couldn't fence. Between these to factors and Stewarts sickness the righting was pretty much on the wall.

Less said about the team comp the better although the final result probably flattered us that day - I can't remember what it was.


So, in summary, a competition with perhaps a slightly lower standard than French domestics and certainly proper world cups gave me the chance to see that I was capable of beating people and also gave me an opportunity to let my hair down a bit.

Sitting eating a steak in Copenhagen International Airport/Mall I felt a thoroughly content with the weekend.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Just back from the satellite competition in Copenhagen.

I finished 6th (seeded third after the poules) in the tournament and was reasonably pleased with my performance. It certainly was a boost to my confidence which I'll admit has been flagging somewhat lately.

Now though I'm absolutely shattered and need to go bed before I collapse on the computer.

A full report to follow shortly and don't think I haven't forgot about those missing months either...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Post Christmas Blues

I don't think I've been as sad to leave Ireland in a good while.

I'm determined to make this year a good one, in my fencing, person life and profession but I feel like I'm starting from square one again leaving the majority of my friends here. This feeling is not unfamiliar to me. Normally when I go back to Paris after a few days in Ireland it takes a few days to readjust.

Everything is up in the air all over again. Will I be able to find a marketing job? How will my season progress? How long will I stay in France? Do I want to stay in France?

I was told that there's an ancient Chinese curse - "May you live in interesting times". What I did to be so cursed I'm not certain but I'm determined to enjoy the results as much as I can anyway.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A New Beginning?

The first sunrise of 2008. A friend's sofa overlooking Sandymount strand. Uncertainty is scary and the past brings no real comfort right now. At this point I'm not reveling in the thought of the return of this introspection in only 366 short days.

Happy new year! Time to make the most of it.

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