RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - More than 1,600 fencers ages 20 and under are competing for junior national titles and berths on the 2015 Junior and Cadet World Championship Team at the USA Fencing Junior Olympic Championships in Richmond, Va. this weekend.
Competition opened on Friday and will run through Monday at the Richmond Convention Center. All events are free and open to the public.
Athletes will compete in each of three weapons (epee, foil and saber) with events held in the junior (U20), cadet (U17) and junior team categories.
The tournament will serve as the final qualifying event for the Junior and Cadet Worlds for women's epee and men's and women's foil fencers. Men's and women's saber and men's epee fencers also will earn valuable points toward World Team qualification, but those squads will be selected in March. The Junior and Cadet World Championships will be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from April 1-9.
More than 50 athletes from throughout Virginia will be among those vying for gold in Richmond. One of the top athletes to watch will be foil fencer Stefani Deschner who will be competing just 15 minutes away from her hometown of Mechanicsville. The 15-year-old broke through during the 2013-14 season where she won gold at the Tauberbischofsheim Cadet European Cup and is now ranked No. 3 in the Cadet European standings after winning three medals on the international circuit this season, including gold at the Montecatini Cadet European Cup in Italy last month.
Fencing begins at 8:30am each day of competition and runs through about 8:00pm. Click on the above video for our look at the opening day of action and to hear from the local fencer Deschner.