Art of Fencing, Art of Life

Fantastic Performance from AFM Fencers at the 2019 Fencing Summer Nationals

Fantastic Performance from AFM Fencers at the 2019 Fencing Summer Nationals

Wow. Just wow! We are still reeling from incredible performance of the AFM fencers at the 2019 Fencing Summer Nationals in Columbus. 

After a memorable 10 days in Columbus, Ohio, we are home and still stunned by the marvelous results from our AFM athletes. It’s impossible not to be proud of these tremendous results from our hard working fencers, so here they are! Join us in congratulating them!

Top National Fencers

Fencers from all over the  United States traveled to Columbus, Ohio earlier this month to face off in the biggest fencing competition in America, Fencing Summer Nationals. After a year of hard work, building on success through the 2018-2019 fencing season, we are ecstatic to say that AFM is among the top clubs in the USA in the medal count, and the best club on the West Coast. Among the 134 American and Canadian fencing clubs that took home medals, AFM’s final rank is number six! That’s phenomenal! 

AFM Ranked #6 in total medal count in 2019 USA Fencing Summer Nationals - photo of American Fencing Magazine Winter 2020 edition

We are so proud and humbled that we are among the leaders in the country in the medals, and it shows the great work of our coaches and fencers. It takes the hard work and dedication of dozens of people to get here, many more when you include the family and community support.

But it is not only medals that matter. We had a lot of fencers that were almost there, who made it to the medal rounds and lost by a touch or two. Each of those fencers, and in fact all of the fencers who participated from clubs across the country, deserve to be celebrated as well. No matter what your ranking or your place on the podium, what matters most is that this competition pushes individual fencers to grow. That’s what we’re here for, and that’s why we’re so proud of our participating fencers!

We had many fencers who earned their national points and qualified for next year’s Summer Nationals already. We had many fencers participated at the nationals for the first time and totally rocked it. We saw so many personal best results in every event we participated in. We saw fencers putting their training into use, balancing their talent and intellect while focusing and achieving. We had not just one or two fencers who got a big haul of medals, but rather a whole AFM fencing team who all put their best foot forward on the strip. It was truly a whole club achievement, with many of our fencers making it all the way to the top. What a great result! 

Preparation, hard work

This result did not come from just one week of hard work, or one month of hard work. When an athlete gets to this level and does well, it’s because they spent years working with good coaches and putting in time and focus. That being said, practicing smart is just as important as practicing a lot.

We also saw a huge correlation between participation in our Summer Nationals preparation camps and pre-Summer Nationals training and the results that our fencers achieved. Though the talent and skill are built over years of practice, it is no secret that ramping up towards the big competition there is a critical window of training time. There is only a hair’s breadth of difference between the fencers who are in this top echelon of athletes, that’s how tight the competition is at this level. What makes the difference between who gets that last point and who doesn’t comes down to a lot of factors, but one big one is the way that they prepare in that last stretch leading towards the Nationals 

It’s not even only about the result. The stretch of intense training that our fencers pushed themselves through in those last few weeks brought everyone up a notch, and not only in terms of their end result. We saw a lot of our fencers who really tried their best, pushing past where they ever thought they’d be. A lot of these young people grew up as a fencers, they matured as young people too. We love to see the personal development and growth that intense fencing training brings with it. We also saw a lot of camaraderie develop between our fencers and their opponents as well, and building those connections is a part of success that we just can’t ignore! 

Our coaches are of course an integral part of the success of our fencers. Their great work during the year and of course their fantastic teamwork during Fencing Summer Nationals. This kind of coaching is no walk in the park, it’s long days and late nights. Oftentimes they are the first ones there at seven o’clock in the morning and are the last to leave, sometimes as late as nine o’clock in the evening. These invaluable people form a network of support and experience around our fencers. They have a lot on their plates, with these young fencers depending on them for the expertise and guidance that they need. Without them, all of this would be impossible. 

All of this hard work and working together meant a fantastic Summer Nationals for AFM!

Shouting out for our fencers

The best place to end with our excitement is to congratulate each of our marvelous fencers who made us so very proud! Everyone on the AFM team did wonderfully, and we are just overjoyed to be a part of your success. It’s our fencers who keep us inspired to move forward! 

Here are all national medalists of 2019: 

  • Leehi Machulsky – United States Champion, Y12 Women’s Epee
  • Priscilla Leang – United States Champion, Division 2 Women’s Epee and a B rating
  • Audrey Chu and AFM Senior Women’s Epee Team – Bronze Medal
  • Mark Wheeler – Bronze Medal in Veteran Men’s Epee Team
  • Ria Jobalia – Bronze Medal, Division 2 Women’s Epee and B rating
  • Sanvi Sharma – Bronze Medal, Y10 Women’s Epee
  • Neta Korol – Bronze Medal, Division 3 Women’s Foil and C rating
  • Gabrielle Gebala – Bronze Medal, Y12 Women’s Foil and C rating
  • Gabrielle Gebala – Bronze Medal, Y10 Women’s Foil
  • Daniel Chirashnya – 6th Place Medal, Y10 Men’s Foil
  • Zoie Wang – 8th place Medal, Y10 Women’s Foil

Notable Results – a fencer earned a rating or national points in a respective age category:

  • Sonia Bulavko – 12 Place in Junior Women’s Epee (out of 238 fencers)
  • Sonia Bulavko – 13 Place in Division 1 Women’s Epee (out of 142 fencers)
  • Leehi Machulsky – 60 Place in Junior Women’s Epee (out of 238 fencers)
  • Audrey Chu – 27 Place in Division 1A Women’s Epee (out of 126 fencers)
  • AFM Senior Men’s Epee Team – 27 Place out of 62 Teams
  • Mark Shamis – 57 Place in Junior Men’s Epee (out of 348 fencers)
  • Rafael Zagitov – 60 Place in Junior Men’s Epee (out of 348 fencers)
  • Mark Shamis – 50 Place in Division 1A Men’s Epee (out of 171 fencers)
  • Leehi Machulsky – 24 Place in Cadet Women’s Epee (out of 187 fencers)
  • Priscilla Leang – 34 Place in Cadet Women’s Epee (out of 187 fencers)
  • Sanil Sharma – 37 Place in Cadet Men’s Epee (out of 258 fencers)
  • Paul Kim – 54 Place in Cadet Men’s Epee (out of 258 fencers)
  • Yakov Shur – 56 Place in Cadet Men’s Epee (out of 258 fencers)
  • Thjimen de Jong – 9 Place in Division 2 Men’s Epee (out of 239 fencers) and D2019 rating
  • Yakov Shur – 10 Place in Division 2 Men’s Epee (out of 239 fencers)
  • Jason Louie – 27 Place in Division 2 Men’s Epee (out of 239 fencers)
  • Dana Korol – 43 Place in Division 2 Women’s Foil (out of 172 fencers)
  • Priscilla Leang – 16 Place in Y14 Women’s Epee (out of 201 fencers)
  • Alice Lan – 56 Place in Y14 Women’s Epee (out of 201 fencers)
  • Noya Chirashnya – 63 Place in Y14 Women’s Epee (out of 201 fencers)
  • Yakov Shur – 48 Place in Y14 Men’s Epee (out of 283 fencers)
  • Neta Korol – 26 Place in Y14 Women’s Foil (out of 232 fencers)
  • Dana Korol – 46 Place in Y14 Women’s Fol (out of 232 fencers)
  • Andrea Leang – 11 Place in Division 2 Women’s Epee (out of 179 fencers)
  • Paul Kim – 16 Place in Division 3 Men’s Epee (out of 197 fencers)
  • Lucas Wu – 26 Place in Y10 Men’s Foil (out of 154 fencers)
  • Ruoxi (Cici) Sun – 35 Place in Y12 Women’s Foil (out of 163 fencers)
  • Chien-Yu (Cheryl) Sun – 37 Place in Y12 Women’s Foil (out of 163 fencers)
  • Alice Lan – 20 Place in Y12 Women’s Epee (out of 119 fencers)
  • Sanvi Sharma – 27 Place in Y12 Women’s Epee (out of 119 fencers)
  • Noya Chirashnya – 31 Place in Y12 Women’s Epee (out of 119 fencers)
  • Christopher Wright – 33 Place in Y12 Men’s Epee (out of 209 fencers)
  • Daniel Chirashnya – 53 Place in Y12 Men’s Foil (out of 275 fencers)

Biggest of congratulations to all of our fencers and our coaches!! And of course we extend our thanks to the incredible competitors from all over the United States and beyond for offering such robust and meaningful competition during the event. Without good competitors who challenge us to improve, none of this would be as meaningful.

Congratulations once again! We are so very proud of all of you – fencers coaches and parents!


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  1. R

    There also was the Y10MF who had difficulty hooking-up and unhooking, apparently from inexperience. A Y10WF’s only action was to run at her opponent with her arm out-stretched. She also held up pool sheet processing by saying “I think my score was 1-5 not 0-5” as were all her scores.

    • Irina Chirashnya

      Dear R,
      This post is supposed to celebrate our club’s great performance at the Summer Nationals in Columbus, our dedicated families and fantastic coaches.
      Of course, we did not try to tell here that every one out of 80 (!) fencers who represented AFM at the Nationals are extremely experienced fencers. We are very proud of every fencer who qualified and participated in this big competition! As a referee and fencing educator yourself you must know how important is to support young fencers, to encourage them to compete and help them realize their potential. Every Olympic champion started with being inexperienced on their first big event, being nervous and maybe yes, “running with arm out-stretched”. It is totally normal, we are happy we had Y10 brave and special kids performing their best and learning as they go.
      In general, I think fencing community is a very small and friendly one! It is much more advisable to support each other, to help each other and celebrate sport rather than being upset with small insignificant facts.

  2. R

    The two cited fencers weren’t ready for Nationals, let along Regionals. This is what led to reffing incomplete tableaux of 512. Some of my colleagues were working 8 AM to 11 PM. These fencers’ money would have been better spent on additional lessons and the camps which proved vital to your fencers’ success.

    • Irina Chirashnya

      To R.

      It is OK to have different points of view, we always are grateful to have comments.
      Discussion is a good thing.

      Please let me again to emphasize my opinion, maybe I was not clear in my first response.
      What I tried to tell you is that no one can be completely ready for Summer Nationals, we insist on that in our club. Ready for what? For top places, for ratings, for medals, for national points? These kids were absolutely ready to experience the big game, ready to be inspired be the best fencers in the nation in their age category, ready to look at the National Team, to go to camps with the USA men’s and women’s national foil teams, to learn from their mistakes and come back home with burning desire to be better, to train stronger, and with excitement from being a part of this elite sport. Believe me, they all were ready for this!

      I had many conversations with our first timers at the SN. They all came back with huge excitement and grateful for the opportunity.

      Also, I think the fact that refs worked long hours is not relevant to this discussion whether less experienced fencers should go. Referees know their hard craft, and it is their personal choice to agree and work for the USA Fencing Referring Team. It is absolutely not relevant to the discussion if other than top notch fencers in each category are allowed to fence! Y10 kids officially qualified and were eligible to fence.

      Again, the story above about a child who did not recall her score says nothing about her fencing abilities. My own daughter fenced not her best and was very nervous, even thou it was her 3rd SN. I will disagree if someone will advise me to leave her home, not taking to the competition.

      We are strong believers that fencers must get their experience in high level competitions and we will continue to encourage our young fencers to participate in nationals, and will raise them to success.

      And, btw, there was no Y10MF girl on AFM team that finished even a single bout with 0:5 defeat, all won at least half their bouts in the pools. And we are very proud of their performance regardless of their results and scores.

      Best wishes of success to all.

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