4 May

Exceeded my expectations at today’s tournament. Not only did I meet all three of my goals, but I finally got the monkey off my back.

Very first bout was against a guy from my club who’s a rarity, in that he’s actually older and less experienced than me. Was very nervous at the start (the most nervous I’d be all day), worried about losing to someone I should beat. Compartmentalize — set aside that anxiety, don’t think about what I might feel, and just fence. And it worked — focused on doing what I knew I could do, and won 5-2.

That was my only win in the four prelims (two touches in two, one in the other). Faced another newbie in my first DE, young guy who wasn’t in my pool so I had no idea what to expect. After our first few touches I thought I had a chance, and when I got ahead by five I knew I could win this. But again — compartmentalize. Don’t get excited, stay in the moment, fence. I could see that if I waited, he’d leave an opening. Don’t rush, wait for it, then go.

I’m up 8-2, and start getting tired. Time to slow it down, get my wind back. At the end of the first encounter I’m at 13 – 8. Coach comes up to me — “You’re in a good position but the fat lady hasn’t sung yet. Stay patient, don’t force anything. Just listen to the conversation, attack when the moment’s right.”

Give up a touch when we resume, get a couple off-targets. Stay calm, this is still your bout to win, just fence. He comes in fast, get his blade and riposte. One more. Late on my next parry, but that’s OK. Wait wait wait — there it is. Lunge, hit, and win that first DE.

I’ve now had as much success as I could reasonably expect. Next DE is against — my coach! And the eventual winner of the tournament. Best I can muster is two touches before the day’s over for me.

Needed a day like this. Proof that I belong in this sport.

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