Tue | Feb 18, 2020

Chang hopes CAC silver boosts fencing in JA

Published:Tuesday | July 31, 2018 | 10:41 AMAkino Ming
Contributed Jamaica's Caitlin Chang (right) competing in the semi-finals of the women's epee fencing at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia
Jamaica's Caitlin Chang with her silver medal, the island's first ever medal in fencing at the Central American and Caribbean Games.

Caitlin Chang is hoping her historic silver medal win in the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games women’s individual fencing competition, epee, will boost Jamaica’s chances in the team competition.
“We’ve the team event coming up on Tuesday. I’ve taken a lot of confidence from this medal today and to hopefully bring what I got today in the individual event to the team event and the team is very important,” said Chang, who went down 10-15 to Cuba’s Jocelyn Cruz in the final.
“In the qualifying competition we came second in teams and it’d be great to try to improve on that. Today (Sunday) has set me up well for the team event because I’ve seen everybody, I’ve seen how they’re fencing, my team-mates have seen how they’re fencing so hopefully this medal today and with the way I was fencing today we can take that into the team competition. For the team to win a medal as well, that would be the dream,” Chang admitted.
There are actually three weapons in fencing – epee, foil and sabre – and Chang said she is not really interested in the others.
“I do the weapon of epee and that’s a simple concept because the first touch, the first point, if you hit the person first you get the point. In the pool stage, which is the earlier stage we go to five points and in the knockout stage we go to 15 points. Fifteen points is lot more points and it gets a lot more tactical because people are changing up,” she analysed.
“So you can be fencing someone, you’re winning three-nil and you’ve got nine minutes and they change up … So you’ve to change with it, if they’re adapting you’ve to adapt too.
She had competed in individual competition on Saturday, along with fellow Jamaicans Ciara Moreira-Brown and Donovan Deans and pointed out that a lot of big names were involved.
“There are some difficult people in our region, some of them are Olympians, one of whom I faced today in the semi-final, Maria Martinez,” shared Chang. “She’s a very good fencer and someone I actually look up to, so to fence her and beat her was a real big moment for me.”
Chang continued: ”There were a lot of shocks in the competition today, some of the best people went out early, which was interesting. But that’s sport, anything can happen, which I’ve shown today with my medal.”
Besides the challenge from opponents, Chang noted that one has to be constantly thinking in the game.
“I have to say it’s probably more of a mental game, it’s a very mental game. People say it’s a physical game of chess; you’re constantly trying to set someone up to do something that you want to do and you’ve to try and take advantage of that. So you’ve to stay there, focus on the mind,” she explained. “It’s very tactical, it’s a very tactical sport, so that’s definitely the main thing.
“Obviously, there speed as well, you’ve to use speed to beat people; they’re fast and you need to be ready, take an action if you’re ready to. Speed is very important, it’s speed, power and mental,” she added.
The 25-year-old female athlete became the first Jamaica representative to win a fencing medal at an international Games.
However, it was not Jamaica’s first fencing medal in international competition, as Alison Miller had won gold at the CAC Championship for fencing.
When asked to comment on herself in a pioneering role, Chang said: “It’s strange to look at ourselves that way … it’s a really nice idea that I’m a pioneer, but hopefully what it’ll do is inspire other potential fencers in Jamaica; if they want to pick up a sword, if they think about fencing, but they’ve seen it now … and if it inspires then that’s something I’m really proud of and hope will make our federation bigger, I really hope that it makes more people think ‘oh, I really can fence’.”