Trucking Along

It's dejavu from last week. Nothing like writing a blog and losing it all. I love technology. Let's try again. If I lose this one, I'm going back to an analog cell phone and the pony express.

In Montreal for fencing nationals. I took the train from Ottawa after training there for 10 great days. Fencing in Ottawa was really good as it gave me a chance to fence different people and work with a great coach (Paul ApSimon). My goal was to take that work and transfer it into a solid fence here. My first bout demonstrated this, as I won 5-0. Losing 0-5 in the second brought me back to reality. Ouch. I went on to lose two bouts 4/5, and split the remaining two. This put me at 2/4 which is not favourable any way you look at it, and as you'll have seen via twitter if you follow @joshuarikerfox. Ranking this low, puts one in a position of fencing higher ranked fencers and having to work your way back up. I was ranked in the 40s and bout one was against number 25. It was a tough fight where both of us had leads at different points. The game evolved as each of us figured out the other's strategy. Eventually I won 15-14. The next round, I had fencer #9. Again, the score went back and forth, and I think we each had moments where we thought we had our opponent figured out, only to relinquish a short lead. Tied at 13, we went into extra time where he had priority, meaning that after one minute of fencing, if neither of use scored, he would win.

This is a rule that just ensures something happens and the fencers don't just passively compete. I earned the final point, which felt great given how slow of a start I'd had that day. So, off to the third round where I met long time friend Tigran Bajoric who is arguably the best epeeist in Canada. He is an ex-pentathlete who competed with my at Youth Worlds in 2001, if you can believe. Time flies. Now he's fencing on the national team and I'm pentathloning... Tigran is a very good fencer and friend, but I still wanted to win and put up a fight. I held until 8-9, at which point my fatigue and his skill took over. So, finished 15th which is my best finish at a National Circuit meet. It always feels good to beat some pure fencers, and I take satisfaction that I when trying to recall specific actions or scores, it's a bit hazy. This tells me I was in the zone, and applying what I'd absorbed the last few weeks. There is a short clip embedded at the bottom of this page.

I am thankful my coach Denis came out as I was the only athlete from our club. As well, my parents came for a 48 hour visit, to see me compete and partially as I've been away for a while. I really appreciated this because they are both self-employed so it's a sacrifice on their part. It was a last minute surprise for them to come. The eventual winner of the tournament, Max Brink-Croteau, and I had a chat. We've trained a bit together in Ottawa as he is from Gatineau. He recently moved to train in Beijing, fencing for the club Vengo. Asking him what it's like, he said his club has 11,000 members! And 80 coaches. Unreal. The Chinese are strong in fencing and now I appreciate why. I respect Max for going there (they are financing his training) because he wants to reach Rio 2016 and thinks this is the pathway to take.

That's it for now. I fly to Chengdu (China - World Cup 4), via Hong Kong, after a 5 hour layover here in Toronto... I'll do my best to keep updates current while there. This could be a challenge as the internet there is highly censured (no FB or twitter access). I am not sure I have access to my page. I'll leave you with a quote that was recently shared with me - I don't want to leave any potential on the table.  I hear that, after a while, it starts to smell like regret.