Six young Kingston fencers have been practising their skills for the Ontario Winter Games, which are set to begin in Orillia on Thursday.
Chase Helpard, Clark Davy, Pierre Offredi, Dante Law, Jonah Fy and first-year fencer Kye Hallam have all qualified for the provincial competition. Some are new to the sport. Others like 13-year-old Chase Helpard are not. Helpard has been fencing for seven years and this will be his second time heading to the Games.
“It’s going to be pretty fun. I’m really excited and a fun experience,” Helpard said.
The provincial-level athletes are between the ages of 12 and 18. Competitors qualify through a regional selection process conducted by provincial sports organizations. The games take place every two years.
Coaches with the Kingston Fencing Club say they are excited to see their athletes compete at the provincial level.
“For us that’s amazing. We have more going than any other club in Ontario,” Shellane Helpard, one of the group’s two coaches and parent to Chase, said.
“I’m here four times a week usually. So there’s a lot of practice. On Saturdays I’m usually here for three-and-a-half hours,” Chase Helpard said.
The Ontario Winter Games first started in 1970 and since then they have become Ontario’s largest multi-sport event. For some athletes, it’s a stepping stone for bigger competitions like the Pan Am Games or the Olympics.
“Universities look at this. Especially universities with fencing programs like Brock and Queens,” Shellane Helpard said.
The competition runs from March 1-4.