On the weekend of February 7th and 8th Zachary I and I loaded up the car and headed to Swift Current, Saskatchewan for another provincial fencing tournament. Zachary had been sick with a cold for a couple of weeks now and had been tired and run down. I was worried about how well he would perform when he’s not feeling well because he is his own worst critic and would not accept illness as an “excuse” for what he considers poor performance. He did mange to rest a bit on the drive to Swift Current and as we arrived early on Friday we were able to have a restful evening preparing for the tournament.
Early Saturday morning we got up and went down for breakfast. As always, Zachary was very choosy about what he ate for breakfast. He wanted to make sure that what he chose to eat would be healthy and would give him the energy and nutrition that he needed for the morning that he had ahead of him.
After breakfast we left for the venue. I could see that he was still not feeling very well but he was determined that he was not going to let the cold interfere with his day of competition.
Shortly after we arrived one of the girls that Zachary fences on a regular basis arrived with her family. One look at her and it was obvious that something was bothering her. Kirsten began her warm up and I could see that she was fighting tears. I asked her if everything was alright and she told me that she had some pretty heavy duty dental work done the day before and that her mouth was pretty sore, and to top it all off the medication that they gave her for the pain was making her sick to her stomach. Kirsten was determined that she was going to fence through the pain and that she would not let it stop her from kicking butt on the piste.
I watched Kirsten fight her way through every pool bout fighting tears and nausea the entire time. She held herself together and was entering the DE’s shaky and hurting badly. Despite her obvious distress Kirsten continued winning and she and Zachary ended up facing each other in the finals. And much to my delight (and dismay…come on she was fencing against my kid) she won the finals and took home the gold medal in Cadet Mixed Epee, while Zachary won the silver medal.
I must admit that I was amazed by how hard she fought through the entire competition showing just how strong and determined she was to not allow her pain and discomfort affect her. She definitely earned her gold medal.
The next day Zachary was entered in Junior Mixed Epee in the morning and Senior Men’s Epee in the afternoon. Once again I settled in with my sewing and watched as Zachary prepared for his competition. He was so focused while going through his warm ups I was sure that this was going to be his day.
As I sat watching Zachary in the pool bouts I could tell that something was wrong. He started favoring one of his legs and he had to work harder and harder at placing any weight on it.
At the end of the pool bouts Zachary came over and told me that an injury that he experienced last year (a stress fracture) had flared up while he was fencing pools.
Fortunately we have a parent in our club who is a Sports Physio and he taped Zachary’s leg to offer a bit more support (thank you Dale!!). Zachary got himself an ice pack and iced his leg while he waited for the DE’s to begin.
He fought hard and a couple of times he went down because his leg simply would not support him. I was worried that he would not be able to finish, but he pulled himself up each time and fought his way into the semi-finals where he once again faced Kirsten (who was feeling much better because she stopped taking the meds that were making her sick). Unfortunately, as hard as he pushed, his injury prevented him from performing as well as he wanted and he lost to Kirsten leaving him with a third place win. I was so proud of him for not giving up and I felt his bronze medal was well fought for.
Sadly as a result of his injury Zachary was unable to continue and had to withdraw from the senior competition. He was very disappointed, but if he had continued it would just have exasperated the stress fracture.
At the end of the weekend I looked back at Kirsten and Zachary’s performance and I could clearly see that even at their young ages they are amazing athletes! They did not allow illness and injury to deter them from giving everything they had to the competition…they were wonderful examples of dedication, determination and drive!