Sports

Allez! Fencer An finds new sporting talent

National top fencer Vũ Thành An hopes that his club will be a new playing ground and that he will find new fencing talent for Việt Nam.

Fencing

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Việt Nam’s No 1 fencer Vũ Thành An (right) and one of his athletes at the Vietnam Royal Fencing Club. — Photo courtesy of Vũ Thành An

Thanh Hà

Vũ Thành An takes a look around the room to ensure everything is ready for a new class.

He then prepares himself and waits for trainees at the Việt Nam Royal Fencing Club, the first national professionally invested club where the sport is expected to be widely spread among the community.

The sport has been practised in Việt Nam for more than 20 years, but athletes are mainly on the provincial and national teams.

National top fencer An hopes that his club will be a new playing ground and that he will find new fencing talent for Việt Nam.

Fencing for all

“I want to popularise fencing in the community. Until now, there is nowhere for people who love and want to practise the sport,” An told Việt Nam News.

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Vũ Thành An expects his Vietnam Royal Fencing Club will help spread the Olympic sport to more people and find more fencing talents. — Photo courtesy of Vũ Thành An

“Currently, fencing is practised among professional athletes only. But fencing is a safe sport, and people can benefit a lot from it. The Olympic sport helps practitioners increase their agility, intelligence, physique, endurance and reach. In addition, it reduces stress and lifts people’s balance while improving coordination.”

Fencing is called a royal sport because in the past it was only practised by royalty and the upper class due to the high cost of equipment such as the weapon, uniforms, masks, and gloves as well as the electric gear for training and competing.

“The initial investment for fencing is higher than other sports, but it will not be a problem as many people love fencing. In my first days opening the club, several people came to visit us. Many of them have been fencers since 2003, and they dreamed of such a club so that they could regularly practise. Meanwhile, many freshmen showed their interest, asking for one-to-one coaching classes instead of the club’s two-times-per-week timetable,” he said.

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People of all ages can practise fencing which helps improve their strength, endurance, flexibility and more. — Photo courtesy of Vũ Thành An

“They make me believe that fencing will become a popular sport in the near future, attracting a high number of practitioners.”

Having been involved in fencing for about 16 years, An has proved his talent in the sport, winning Việt Nam many gold medals at regional competitions such as the SEA Games and ASEAN championship.

He is also a high-ranking athlete on the continent with two Asian championship bronzes and was in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics’ top 15.

With his deep understanding and experience of fencing, An wants to share it all with his trainees.

“People from 8 to 60 years old can play. In fencing, it is not true that the faster and stronger players are the winners, but those who can combine all the needed criteria such as speed, endurance, precision and flexibility. Quick reaction time is important, and a good mind for strategy and tactics is essential,” An said.

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Malaysian fencers choose Vietnam Royal Fencing Club as a training venue to lift up their skills. — Photo courtesy of Vũ Thành An

In addition to his desire to spread fencing, he also is keen to discover new fencing talents for Việt Nam.

“I would like to know how an amateur becomes a professional, and if a late learner can be successful in fencing. Bringing home victories is something that everyone feels proud of. In the future, if my trainees can follow me in the national team, and even achieve more success than me, I would be thrilled,” he said.

Next Olympics

An has been hoping to develop the new facility for years.

“I have dreamed of opening a club for a long time. My initial plan was that the club would be a place to practise and interact with local and international friends, a forum for people to their fencing knowledge,” An said.

“It is also a private professional practice space for me, as I want to overcome my limits. Later, through my international trips, I witnessed fencing popularised in many schools. Many fencing clubs can serve people of different ages. My club will be used to bring the Olympic sport to the Vietnamese people,” he said.

Teaching and practising fencing at the same time is also a good way for An to improve his level, as he is seeking his second time participating in the Olympics.

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Vũ Thành An will hunt his second Olympic place at the Asian zone qualification in April in Dubai. — Photo courtesy of Vũ Thành An

“I have had different angles about fencing that I did not know before. It helps me practise better and push up my level for my biggest target of winning an Olympic slot this year,” he said.

An will take part in the Asian zone qualification in April in Dubai where many strong rivals will vie for only one place.

The world’s top 16 will automatically qualify for the Olympics. But An did not compete in many tournaments in 2023 so fell out of the top 100.

The only way to reach Paris is to win at the Qatar event, which is the last qualifying tournament.

“I will have to play 10 matches to take gold. If I can reach my peak, I am confident I can win. It means that in the two months before the tournament, I will have to practise really hard,” he said.

Theo Vietnamnews