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Haileybury fencer parries with the best

Stephanie Shen (Year 4) only began fencing a year ago but the talented athlete is already making a name for herself in this ancient sport.

NEWS 22 May 2023

After many hours of practice, Stephanie Shen (Year 4), from our Haileybury Newlands campus, has learned to feint, lunge and parry like a pro.

She was recently part of the gold-medal winning U12 Girl’s Foil team at the international Rise Olympic Foil competition in Sydney, where she beat opponents from across Australia, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Stephanie also won a silver medal in the U10 Girl’s Foil individual event.

“Last year I wanted to try something new and so I did a fencing camp during the school holidays and just decided to keep learning. I enjoy fencing because it’s like playing a game,” says Stephanie.

“I do get nervous before a competition. In Sydney I was so nervous I didn’t want to eat but Mum told me I had to eat. When I get nervous, I just try to concentrate on the competition and listen to my coach.

“It’s important to stay calm and not get too excited.”

Winning gold against older competitors in Sydney has been a highlight so far for Stephanie.

She trains about 10 hours a week, juggling her passion for fencing with her studies.

She also likes ice skating, playing cello and reading.

Stephanie’s proud mum, Jing Pan, says that, despite her young age, Stephanie is very self-motivated, which helps her manage her time.

“Stephanie truly loves the sport which is why she’s achieved so much in a short time,” she says.

“She is lucky to belong to a wonderful fencing club and is surrounded by good coaches.

“Balancing her after-school timetable is tricky but between Stephanie, her coach and her family we help her to learn, progress and achieve her goals.”

And Stephanie isn’t the only one affected by nerves when she steps on to the fencing strip to compete.

“I am so nervous in every competition that I get stomach cramps,” Ms Pan said.

While she now has a gold and silver medal displayed proudly in her home, Stephanie now has bigger plans.

“One day I hope to represent Australia at the Olympics,” she says.