Young Bay fencers on point

Nelson Mandela Bay fencers, from left Jon-Paul Raper, Isabella Finestone and Sesethu Dawudi are making an impact on the national scene.
Picture: Jessica Knoetze-Raper

Nelson Mandela Bay fencers are making their presence felt at a national level, with eight placed in the top 20 of the South African rankings.

They include national representative Jon-Paul Raper, who was ranked as high as six before an injury meant he missed the Western Cape Open, resulting in a drop of five places.

On July 8, he will compete in the South African championships in KwaZulu-Natal in a bid to better his ranking.

Pearson High pupil Isabella Finestone, 16, is ranked in the top 10, slotting in at No 7, and 19-year-old Sesethu Dawudi, of PE IT College, is at No 14.

Other Eastern Cape fencers in the top 20 are: women U17 epee fencing: Bella Archibald (14 years old, No 10), Rachel Beukes (14, No 16), Paola Signorile (14, No 18); men U20 epee fencing: Salmaan Schmidt (19, No 18)

Grade 10 Pearson scholar Finestone won the bronze medal at the recent Western Cape Open, while Dawudi produced his best achievement when he came sixth in a strong junior section of the Western Cape National Ranking competition last month.

Raper and his mother are both national fencing coaches and are excited at the depth the sport is beginning to show in the Eastern Cape.

“For us here in the Eastern Cape, with few resources, we are especially happy with Isabella, Sesethu and Jon-Paul holding up against the rest of the country,” Eastern Cape Fencing chairwoman Jessica Knoetze-Raper said.

She said although they faced various challenges, they had a group of enthusiastic people who were committed to the Olympic sport.

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