Ten Years for CISM Fencing Canada!
In March of 2005 my manager in the RMCC Athletic Department, Mr. Guy Dubé, asked if I was interested in attending a CISM Fencing event in Europe with some of my RMC athletes. I had inquired to several people about CISM Fencing many times before, and was always told the same thing, that it would probably never happen. Therefore, when this sudden query was presented to me, my immediate and unwavering answer was a definite YES! With only ten days to prep, and only three spots for Canadian military athletes, our small RMC delegation headed to Grosseto Italy for the 40th World Military Fencing Championships. Every moment of that trip was eye opening, including the format, which we expected to be individual fencing, when in reality it turned out to be Team Relay.
Upon arrival my three individual fencers, one in men’s foil, one in women’s foil and one in women’s sabre, were promptly put into mixed country teams for the competition. This was completely new for us. Then early in the week the Pope passed away, and the country and the world went into mourning, which included the suspension of all sport and celebratory activities. Eventually the fencing event took place and as newcomers to the world of CISM Fencing we had to function with maximum flexibility, but in the end our Canadian debut was made, and we haven’t looked back since.
Ten years later those three young officer cadets are still involved in the sport of fencing today. Capt Alex Prymack (Gagetown, NB) fences men’s foil with CISM, Major Marilyne Lafortune (Bagotville, QC) fences both epee and foil in CISM and is our Team Manager, and Capt(ret’d) Natalie Jones (Montreal, QC) is a member of the Canadian National Team High Performance Program in women’s sabre. The CISM program has grown dramatically with athletes in many CF Bases across Canada since those early days. We have had annual training camps here at RMCC for the past ten years and we have trained and competed in numerous countries including Romania, Germany, Cuba, Sweden, The Netherlands, Venezuela, Great Britain, and Brazil. At the 2011 World Military Games CISM Fencing Canada won a bronze in individual men’s epee (Lt Jean Lelion) and finished 5th overall for the Nations Cup. The CISM Fencing Program continues to evolve, welcoming new talented athletes each season, and the program performs well with its sights set on the next World Military Games in Korea in October 2015.
This weekend we will travel to The Netherlands with yet another generation of young RMC fencers to usher into the CISM Fencing Program. Two talented OUA Medalists, RMC epee fencers IV OCdt Kalina Larocque (26261) and IV OCdt Deanna Gilmore(26542), will be joining ex-cadet and veteran CISM fencer Capt. Sarah McRae 23502 (Bagotville, QC) along with our National Team level men’s epee team, for a CISM Epee Championships in Oirschot, The Netherlands. We will have a military, sport and cultural exchange with solid competition from Bahrain(1), KMS Belgium (2), Con Gent Belgium (2), Sweden (2), NL mil, NL Nat(2) KMSV(2). Everyone is excited and looking forward to representing Canada and the CAF at yet another outstanding CISM opportunity this coming week in Europe.
To Major Lafortune, Capt Prymack and Capt(ret’d) Natalie Jones, my heartfelt thanks for leaping into the unknown with me ten years ago. It was such an important and brave first step. To all the RMC fencers and CAF fencers, both Reservists and Reg Force, who have been part of CISM Fencing over the past ten year, thank you for working so hard to train and compete, and for being part of this amazing journey. To all the members of the current CISM Fencing Program thank you for continuing to represent the CAF and Canada so well in international CISM Fencing. You continue to make us proud. Most of all, my thanks to the National Sport and CISM staff in Ottawa, past and present, ex-cadet BGen Martin Girard our CISM Patron, and to the CAF for seeing the value of, and supporting, international sport for its military members.
Happy 10th Anniversary CISM Fencing Canada! Now, let’s get ready for Korea World Military Games October 2015! En garde, prêt, allez….
Patricia L. Howes ChPC
RMCC Fencing Master/Maître d’armes
CISM Fencing Program Canada Head Coach
CFF National Team Coach JWS