Local athlete finds passion in fencing
Local athlete finds passion in fencing
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This article was published 01/06/2022 (187 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
His name is Jordan Diacos. He’s skilled with sabres. Prepare to fight.
Actually, Diacos’ first sabre was a lightsaber. Growing up as a Star Wars fan, five- and six-year-old Diacos would swing around the glowing toy swords. So when his mother discovered an open house for the Lightning Fencing Club in Wolseley, she signed him up.
For the now 18-year-old, it quickly became clear fencing was the sport for him.
“It’s sword-fighting — who doesn’t want to do that?” he laughed. “And I just couldn’t find any other sport that I liked as much.”
Diacos and his parents credited the Lightning Fencing Club for creating a positive atmosphere, in which children could nourish their inner D’Artagnans and Inigo Montoyas without too much pressure foisted on them.
There are three categories of fencing, each defined by the use of three different swords — epée, foil, and sabre.
Epée is a thrusting weapon. Fencers score points by hitting anywhere on their opponent with only the point of their sword. With the foil, combatants also strike with the point, but the target area is narrowed to just the chest. Least common is the sabre, which differs most from the other two, in that fighters can slash with the side of the weapon as well as thrust the point.
Despite sabre being the least common, Diacos was drawn to it immediately.
“It’s the most aggressive,” he said.
“All the rest are very cerebral. You have a lot of time to think things through during the match and really get there. Whereas with the sabre, it’s either it’ll work or it doesn’t — fight!
“That’s my thing.”
Over the years at Lightning Fencing Club, Diacos fell further and further into the sport, until the club’s coach, Daria Jorquera Palmer, recommended him for the provincial team. The club is non-competitive, so it was the natural step for someone as enthralled by the sport as was Diacos.
From March 20 to 23, Diacos represented Canada at the Junior Pan American Championships in Lima, Peru. At the games, Diacos and his teammates scored big, taking home a bronze medal in the team event. Shortly afterward, Diacos flew to Dubai to compete once again, from April 2 to 10.
When Diacos speaks of his sport, his eyes light up and words pour out. He brims with things to say about the sport, such as how the sabre was first made for knights to swing from their horses as they charged into battle. Fencing has evolved from its medieval and renaissance era forms — which is a good thing from a mortality standpoint — but it’s still part of the appeal for Diacos.
“It’s a gentleman’s sport, but you still feel connected to the warriors,” he said.
Lightning Fencing Club coach Jorquera Palmer said about 60 to 80 adults and children participate at the club each year.
“The club has a very social atmosphere. We have pizza days… we’ll have a potluck sometimes. It’s all very, very friendly. Everyone’s there to help people out,” said Jorquera Palmer.
Jorquera Palmer joined the club about 23 years ago, 12 years of which she competed on the Canadian national team. Now, as coach, she’s working to teach new fencers who may compete or become coaches or referees down the road, ensuring the club can continue to foster the enthusiasm of kids like Diacos.
Diacos is graduating from Oak Park High School in June. He’ll be competing as an NCAA athlete at the University of Wisconsin next year on a fencing scholarship.
Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 204-697-7206.