World Fencing Championships Under Way

Top junior and cadet fencers come to Jordanstown for 2009 World Championships

Fencing rarely gets the kudos it deserves. It has a lineage dating all the way back to the 12th century, and is one of only four sports to have appeared in every modern Olympics.  But still most people don't know their foil from their saber.

University of Ulster's Jordanstown campus are doing their best to change this as this week more than 1,000 of the world’s top fencers cross swords at the Junior and Cadet World Fencing Championships 2009.

The event runs until April 13 and has attracted fencing talent from 85 countries. There is free entry for spectators with the University’s multi-million pound sports facilities transformed into a 1,000-seat arena.

So it's hardly surprising that the organisers are confident the event will be a success: 'The new multi-million pound sports facilities at the University make it an ideal venue at which we will welcome some of the world’s best fencers,' says professor Jim Allen, University of Ulster pro vice chancellor for sport.

'The ability to attract an international event such as this shows the university’s commitment to becoming the leading university for sport on the island of Ireland,' he continues.

Sport at Jordanstown is going from strength to strength. The University has already been designated as a pre-Olympic and Paralympics training camp for the 2012 London Olympics.

The Jordanstown sports facilities have also attracted some of the world’s top athletes to use the campus as a training base. The Italian Rugby Union team, the Northern Ireland soccer team, Irish Olympic and Paralympic athletes, and international stars from many sports have used the facilities in the run-up to major sporting events.

Although fencing is not the most popular - or high-profile - sport in Northern Ireland Piers Martin, CEO of British Fencing, believes the junior and cadet fencers will show people what they are missing.

'We're delighted to have the event here in Belfast. It's a fantastic opportunity for Northern Ireland and for British Fencing. Hopefully this opportunity to see the world's best young fencers will encourage many people of all ages to try the sport and get involved themselves. The facilities here at Ulster are great and we've had lots of positive feedback.'

Northern Ireland sports minister Gregory Campbell comments: 'It is an honour for Northern Ireland to host the Fencing Championships and I welcome all the teams for this international event.

'Hosting international sporting events is one of the best ways of showing the world what Northern Ireland has to offer. I would be hopeful that some of the young competitors taking part in these Championships will qualify for the Olympic Games and the people of Northern Ireland could be welcoming them back for pre-games training in 2012.'