Changing China

Giant on the move

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Beautiful, baffling and bewildering


rtr20x4z_comp1.jpgSo maybe my next job isn’t fencing correspondent

I’ll admit that I’m not a professional sports journalist, but I like to think of myself as a decent amateur watcher of sport.

As an American living in London, I’ve even fallen deeply in love with cricket. Fencing, however, foxes me completely.

It all sounds so marvellous:

“Take the romantic, swashbuckling epics of Errol Flynn, add some rules, protective clothing and an electronic scoring system, and you have fencing at the Olympic Games. Two rivals stand opposite each other and feint, lunge, parry and riposte until one scores the required number of hits to win”  — so says the official Beijing Olympics website.

The photographs are even more alluring to me. White-suited warriors stand out sharply from pitch-black backgrounds; metal swords gleam; alien-looking bodies are captured in a state of grace.

My bruising experience training for Beijing


gelu.jpgWhen I joined a fencing club in June, I just wanted to learn about a sport I would cover for the
first time at the Beijing Games
. Then a grandmother thrashed me in my first bout, bruising more than just my ego.

I used to fool around with a plastic sword as a kid, pretending I was d’Artagnan, so I figured I was well primed for a promising amateur career in this low-profile sport.