July 19th, 2019

Sheardowns off to fence in Italy

By Sean Rooney on September 14, 2018.

Coreen (left) and James Sheardown pose for a photo at AAA Fencing in downtown Medicine Hat Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. The couple is headed to Italy for masters world championships next month.


They might feel like they’ve lost a step over the years, but Coreen and James Sheardown can still parry with the best of them.

As a result, they’re headed to the World Veterans Fencing Championships next month in Italy.

“We’re not as quick as we used to be, everything hurts more,” said James prior to a practice session at AAA Fencing Thursday.

“As you get older it’s cunning, a lot of cunning involved,” added Coreen.

The husband-and-wife duo won national titles in their 50-and-over age group in St. Catherines, Ont. in May, and did well enough at the Can/Am Veterans Cup a week later to earn their spots on the 32-member Canadian team.

Coreen helped start the Medicine Hat club back in 1975 and went on to compete on a scholarship at Ohio State, but this will be her first worlds of any kind. James has been competing since the early ’80s and their son, Chris, has competed internationally for the past decade.

Even now worlds weren’t on their radar until Olympic gold medallist and Edmonton-based coach Jujie Luan asked if they’d be interested.

“She basically said come on, let’s try out for the games so that’s what we did,” said Coreen, noting Luan is in the 60-plus division. “She’s taking an 81-year-old, so there will be older people there too.”

They expect to be up against semi-professional and professional opponents, many of whom have Olympic medals on their resumes. That said, there were ex-Olympians at the Can/Am meet and they did pretty well against them, so who knows how they’ll do overseas?

“We don’t know what to expect,” said James. “We’ll find out when we get there. First time, we’ll see what we can do.”

“Never went to one so what kind of expectations can you really have? I’m just going to go over, have fun, do my best,” added Coreen.

They were able to use Chris, 20, to help train most of the summer until he went back to school in Edmonton. That was a two-sided coin —the youngster still has all his speed and reflexes. But going up against him could pay off when worlds begins Oct. 8.

“When you fence Chris you get your butt handed to you, but then we fence someone our own speed, our own age, it feels easy,” said James. “You try to keep up with the top dogs but when you’re against someone your own calibre, your own age, you think ‘geez, it’s not that bad.'”

No matter how the competition goes, it’s also a chance to travel and see a country they haven’t been two in nearly three decades.

As for the future? Next year’s worlds are in Egypt. Luan has plans on going every 10 years, not every year, so don’t expect a repeat excursion anytime soon.

Unless they win.

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