American-Based High School Student Wins Irish Open Fencing Championship

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Brendan Cusack, a high school senior living in New Jersey, triumphed at the Irish Open fencing championship in Dublin last weekend. He defeated ten consecutive opponents to capture the title.

Brendan Cusack, a high school senior living in New Jersey, triumphed at the Irish Open foil fencing championship in Dublin at the weekend. The eighteen-year old defeated ten consecutive opponents to capture the title. The previous day he had competed in a Junior World Cup event in London and been narrowly defeated 14-15 by the top-ranked Russian Timur Arslanov in the knockout rounds.

Cusack, who holds both Irish and U.S. citizenship, has recently represented Ireland at several international foil competitions, including the Junior World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. At just under six feet and weighing in at one hundred and forty five pounds, his highly athletic and aggressive fencing style belies some tenants of this traditionally blue-blooded sport.

In a discipline not renowned for prodigious foot speed and jumping ability, Cusack’s swashbuckling approach attracts interest and even controversy. He concedes that some fencing purists are not always his biggest supporters, but is determined to make a big impression in the sport.

“My ultimate goal is to win an Olympic gold medal for Ireland,” he says.

Cusack recognizes the intense challenges he faces in a sport that is often dominated by major fencing nations, such as Italy, France, Russia and China. The top fencers are often sponsored not only by Government agencies, but also enjoy funding from major corporations.

“It can be tough training for and getting to major events from western New Jersey,” says Cusack. “All of the World Cup competitions in foil this year are being held in Europe and Asia. It's not financially possible to get to all of them.”

Cusack began fencing competitively at the age of twelve. He has stayed with the Clinton Fencing Club since his first lesson with Coach Eric Bowden.

This past year, Cusack traveled to Denmark, Azerbaijan, England, Luxembourg and twice to Germany on separate trips, as well as competing in several major events within the United States and Canada. Over the next four months he will travel to Austria and Spain for world cup events, and Jordan for the U-20 World Championships.

“I am really grateful for the chance that the Irish Fencing Federation has given me to compete for Ireland,” he says. “I hope I can justify their faith in me and continue to achieve good results.”

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Mike Williams
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