By Sarah Tone, Communications Coordinator
Manitoba’s fencers are coming home with three medals from the 2023 Canada Winter Games, Matias Enciso’s bronze in Épée, Khloé Lessard-Kulchyski’s silver in Sabre, and Cheryl Cheung’s silver in Épée.
“My expectation was to get a medal, and to try my best. I wanted to work as hard as I can and have the best experience I could have,” said Cheryl.
Khloé’s Games experience is not one she’ll soon forget. While she was humbled and proud to medal, she’s now more in tune with the other joys of participating in a multi-sport event.
“I will most remember how there’s a lot of good sportsmanship, everyone’s been really nice, and it’s all about encouraging others. I like the teamwork aspect of all of this. Especially for fencing, since we’re an individual sport. This event has made us feel more like a team.”
Coach Daria Jorquera Palmer and team manager Ayach Bounachada focused on goals for each individual fencer coming into these Games. The three athletes who train regularly, are the three who earned medals.
As part of the Manitoba Fencing Association’s high-performance program, these athletes have been training 5-7 times per week, attending competitions all over the country, and preparing for podium performances.
Ayach is a long-time coach of the high-performance team, and was Daria’s coach when she was a professional athlete. It’s clear that means a lot to her now, that she’s the team’s head coach.
“It feels really great to be coaching and be here with Ayach. You get to see the other side of the game. Ayach is my mentor, he’s the coach that I always look up to, and I’m learning a lot from him here,” she said.
Reflecting on this Games experience, Ayach is proud and optimistic, the strength of the fencing program will continue to prove itself. Looking ahead, they’re hoping to recruit more full-time coaches, and find a permanent training home for Manitoba’s fencers.
“This is the third Games that fencing participated in, and we’ve medalled again. We have only one part-time coach, we are a small sport, and the competition here, we’re competing against big clubs with full-time coaches and full-time programs.”
“Every year we make medals, and every year we have athletes on the Canadian national team. Imagine what we can do next.”