Crossing Swords in Atlanta

"En Garde!" echoed through Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center on Friday and Saturday (8/27 – 8/28). The dissonant jangle of clashing blades permeated the air, as the numerous shiny silver strips that filled the hall became runways of flashing swords. Paired combatants shuffled forward and back, parrying attacks, and lunging for the win. It was easy to become enrapt in the fast-paced action and lose yourself in the lightning-quick exchanges.

The hall was bustling with activity as fencers descended upon the city to participate in USA Fencing's Veteran National Championships and Veteran Open NAC. Fencers 40 years old and up came ready to test their skills and compete in Foil, Epee, and Saber to qualify for the 2021 Veteran World Championships.

Amidst all the action of this historic art and sport, the realities of today's seemingly endless bout with Covid-19 were everpresent. Competitors in the Veteran National Championships were required to adhere to Covid-19 safety protocols, and have a vaccination at least 14 days before competing and/or attending, or a negative PCR test within the previous 72 hours. Masks were required as well.

As I surveyed the action, I watched two women in their 70s salute at the conclusion of a match and then exit the strip. I spoke to one of the women. What made you get interested in fencing? "I saw an advertisement in my newspaper." Small beads of sweat sprinkled her face as she continued with a glowing smile. "That was twenty years ago." She took a drink of water. "My doctor said I can never give it up." With a spring in her step, she walked away, still smiling.

Whether competitors qualify for the World Championships or not, the fencers are living proof of combat sports being beneficial to a long, happy and healthy life.

Event results can be found here:


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