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Fencing family wins trio of provincial medals

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Tate (from left), Robert and Lane Hornford are all among the top fencers in Manitoba.

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Tate (from left), Robert and Lane Hornford are all among the top fencers in Manitoba. Photo Store

When the Manitoba Fencing Association published the results from its Golden Boy tournament last month, the same last name made several appearances.

Three medals went to members of the Hornford family, as father Robert won gold in senior men’s épée, son Tate won gold in the junior men’s épée, and daughter Lane won silver in junior women’s épée.

Fencing has been a major part of the St. James family — well, for everyone except matriarch Wendy Molnar, who never decided to pick up a sword — for years.

"I fenced at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Alberta, and now I’m in my mid-50s and still fencing," said Robert. "It’s an interesting sport, where you can be competitive for a long period of time."

Growing up, there was always a fencing event that the Hornford kids were being "dragged to" by their father. It was only a matter of time before they all picked up the sport as well.

The oldest son, Cale, fenced for two years at Carleton University and only recently stopped competing. Tate, a 19-year-old University of Winnipeg student, first gave the sport a try when he was 10, and got more serious around 13 when he started training with the provincial team.

"I would go watch my father and older brother, so of course if my older brother was doing it, I had to be doing it, too," he said. "I entered my first tournament and finished last. I’m pretty competitive, so I wanted to improve and not finish last again."

Tate won a bronze medal at his very next tournament, and hasn’t looked back since.

Lane, 17, only recently began taking fencing seriously. The Grade 12 student at Sturgeon Heights Collegiate had been playing premier soccer until last fall, when she decided to focus all her sporting attention on her épée.

"I like that it’s a solo sport, and you make decisions for yourself," she said. "I like the uniqueness of it, too. You don’t meet a fencer every day."

With all three Hornfords training with the same weapon, there’s no shortage of sparring between family members.

"I fence my brother a lot," Lane said. "And my dad as well. It’s like anyone else, but maybe a little more intense against my brother."

According to Tate, his sister might be understating things just a bit.

"I’m pretty competitive, but she’s much more competitive," he said. "She has two older brothers that she just wanted to keep up with, so she always goes full out against us. On the ride home there’s always lots of bragging rights."

Brother and sister were both competing at the national championships in Gatineau, Que., last weekend, while Robert — who recently won a bronze medal at the Western Canadian championships — left his sword at home and served as a coach.

avi.saper@canstarnews.com

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