Simms-Lymn becomes first Jamaican fencer to win PanAm gold medal
Jamaica's Tia Simms-Lymn claimed a historic gold medal at the Cadet Junior Pan American Fencing Championships taking place in Toronto, Canada, where 20 countries from the region are being represented.
Going into the championship ranked number seven in the women's epée, the 15-year-old Simms-Lymn beat No. 1 seed Alexanne Verret of Canada 11-9 in an enthralling finale, to claim her place in Jamaica's sporting history as the first female fencer to be crowned Pan American champion.
She had earlier whipped the 10th-ranked Catalina Leiva of Chile 15-6, before eking out a narrow 15-13 margin over Puerto Rico's Monica Lubczynski in the semi-final.
The teen also has the enviable distinction of now being ranked No. 2 in Great Britain, where she resides with her parents.
"This is a treasured talent coming of age and she is maturing with Rio in sight and beyond, to Tokyo. I am elated and the Federation is marching forward," said James McBean, president of the Jamaica Fencing Federation, from ringside.
The federation's chairman, Christopher Samuda, was equally pleased.
"When James communicated the news to us, it simply reinforced for me the reservoir of talent we have, as a people, and the amazing feats our youth can achieve with discipline, commitment and purpose, all of which Tia has and continues to demonstrate."
The Federation says it will continue to introduce the sport in schools and is moving aggressively to inaugurate a school competition in the last quarter of this year. It also plans to engage an overseas expert as the national coach by the end of March, but said funding remains a challenge.