Durban North fencer ready for African champs

DURBAN North resident Aidan Johnson is hoping to use all of his fencing experience at the Junior African Fencing Championships which start in Accra, Ghana this week.

The Northwood School learner, who competes in the sabre discipline (one of three disciplines in the sport which includes foil and épée) will be representing South Africa at the championships.

He recently competed in the Gauteng Fencing Association open championships where he won bronze for the over 20 category and gold for U20.

“That was a big confidence boost for me. I was able to beat Miguel Ribeiro, the number 1 ranked athlete for sabre in the country. It was a really close bout, and up until that point, I had never beaten him before. Looking ahead to Ghana. I hope to do as well as I can. I know the competition will be tough, especially in Egypt as they are one of the highest ranked African countries in fencing,” he said.

The 16-year-old can also take heart from his performances at last year’s Commonwealth Fencing Championships in London.

While he didn’t win any medals, Aidan used the championships as a learning curve.

“For my first international competition, I was proud of my performances. It was a little overwhelming at times, but I remembered my training and just took it bout by bout. The level of competition was of a high calibre, and I finished 26th out of 31 competitors. It was a massive learning curve for me and a great experience overall,” he said.

Aidan, who is coached by Mitchum Blakeman, trains at the Maestro Fencing Club in Durban and said his overall goal would be for the sport to grow.

“I first fell in love with the sport watching the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero. I have a great fondness for classical history, and fencing appealed to me on this level. Seeing people with swords competing in a sport with such precision and grace definitely drew me in. It was so different to any other sports I had seen. I hope more people will see the beauty in the sport and it will be amazing if more people joined, especially here in Durban,” he said.