Sailor staying sharp with fencing nationals

S1 Kevin Leung

S1 Kevin Leung shows off his fencing gear and Épée (sword). The 29-year-old has been training several hours per week in preparation for fencing’s Canadian National Championships in Toronto, May 20 to 23. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout.

Peter Mallett 
Staff Writer

He may be a late bloomer to the sport of fencing, but S1 Kevin Leung is ready-aye-ready to put his sword skills to the test against Canada’s best.

It was only three years ago that the 29-year-old Naval Communicator first discovered the historic art of fencing and the subtle differences between the three swords: the foil, sabre, and Épée.

Later this month he will put his best foot forward at the 2022 Canadian National Championships in Toronto. The tournament, May 20 to 23 at the University of Toronto, is his second national competition and 10th tournament.

He sees gradual improvement in his performance with each competition.

To prepare, he practices his moves and footwork four times a week at local club OSM Fencing, takes private lessons, and participates in a highly demanding workout program that involves intense exercise.

All about strategy

S1 Leung’s introduction to fencing came in 2019 during a port visit to Hawaii while in HMCS Ottawa. He watched videos of elite fencers Eli Schenkel, Georgina Usher, Max Heinzer, and Áron Szilágyi compete at the Olympics.

“These Olympians were all lightning fast and precise, it was inspiring. Then it hit me, I have always liked swords and there was a sport that allows for sword play, so I thought this might be fun.”

The appeal of fencing, he says, is because it’s added more of a mental game than a test of physical prowess.

“On the surface fencing looks like a bunch of people hopping around and trying to stab each other, but in reality it’s all about strategy, tactics, and exploiting the gaps your opponent makes. You plan your next move and read your opponent’s next move.”

Impressive start 

His first appearance in the Canadian Fencing Federation’s National Championship was in December 2021 in Montreal. He finished 11th out of 19 competitors in the Senior Mixed Épée and 7th in a field of 17 in the Senior Mixed Foil competition. His results have continued to improve. On April 30, at the Stephen Lazar Memorial Tournament at UBC, S1 Leung ranked 18 in a field of 39 fencers in the Épée competition.

Now he is hoping for bigger things in Toronto at the nationals.

“Finishing in first place will be difficult but a more realistic goal I hope to achieve is to get a top 20 [finish] as there are over 200 fencers participating in this tournament.”
S1 Leung is also a member of the Canadian Armed Forces CISM (Counseil International de Sport Militaire/International Military Sports Council) Military World Games fencing team. 

 

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