Montgomery Fencing Club hopes Rio shines spotlight on sport

Montgomery Fencing Club hopes Rio shines spotlight on sport
Source: WSFA 12 News
Source: WSFA 12 News

MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) - With the Olympic Opening Ceremonies less than 24 hours away, swimming, gymnastics and track may be on your radar, but what about fencing?

A Montgomery club says the sport is growing in America.

Montgomery Fencing Club Member Robert Black says he gets asked a lot if there's fencing in Alabama. Black is proof that there is; he took up the sport a year-and-a-half ago so he could relate to his daughter who plays the sport on the collegiate level.

The Montgomery Fencing Club hope the Rio Games shine a spotlight on the sport.

"People don't realize there's three different weapons, they don't realize there's different types of fencing; hopefully the Olympics will be able to showcase some of that," said Black.

For Scott Bowman, what's known as "physical chess" has been a hobby of his for 30 years.

"Great form of exercise, burns a lot of calories, the equipment can be hot when you're doing it but you do actually get to play with swords. You remember when your mom would say you're going to put somebody's eye out? With our equipment you won't put somebody's eye out, but you still get to play with swords," said Bowman, one of the officer's for the Montgomery Fencing Club.

Bowman says the sport has experienced a renaissance since the Athens Games.

"A lot of Czech, Hungarian, Russian [and] Polish coaches have come to America, so we've always had the athletes but what America now has is that world class coaching talent," said Bowman.

For Montgomery fencers, the Olympics help make their sport accessible and they have high hopes for team USA.

"We swept Women's Sabre a few years ago. We've got one of the number one fencers in the world that's ranked going into these games, a male Foilest; 'Sports Illustrated,' don't quote me, but 'Sports Illustrated' says we've got a pretty good shot at two individual medals and two team event medals," said Bowman.

First thing Saturday morning, expect Bowman to be glued to his TV.

"I just get jazzed and I yell at the screen when I think there's been a bad call but I'm very proud of the Americans," said Bowman.

Bowman also points out the scholarship opportunities out there for students. He says a girl is five times more likely to get a fencing scholarship over a volleyball scholarship and boys are seven times more likely over basketball.

"The NCAA looked at it and they said if you were a competitive fencer in high school for a male, you have a 33 percent chance to continue fencing in college, whether at a club or varsity level. And it's at about 37 percent for woman," said Bowman.

Fencing will be televised the first full week of the games, starting on Saturday.

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