Last week saw the highlight of the Fencing season with the annual Public Schools Championships held over three days at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. Westminster pupils competed on the first two days and they proved very successful indeed securing three individual medalists as well as a team trophy.
Firstly in the Boys’ Mount Haes Epee competition, 5th Former Alec Brooke went all the way to the Final and was barely troubled along the way with no opponent scoring more than 8 hits against him. The Final itself was his toughest test but nonetheless, Brooke was able to cruise to victory by 15-9 and lift the trophy. Simultaneously, Sam Wilson was battling his way to the Final of the Boys’ Senior Foil competition. His was tougher progress but, having been knocked out in the semi-finals the previous year, he was determined to go all the way this time around. Indeed, it looked as though Sam would take the title as he stood just one hit away at 14-12 in the Final. However, his Millfield opponent would not give up and scored the last three hits to lift the trophy and inflict heartbreaking defeat on Wilson, who could still though be justifiably very proud of his efforts.
Day two was Tara Sallaba’s turn to shine in the Girls’ Senior Epee competition. She showed great resilience and determination to battle her way through to the semi-finals, having been ranked only 16th after the poules. Twice Sallaba came through on the last hit by 15-14 in the knockout stages, defeating two higher seeded opponents, including the number one seed. Ultimately, her run came to an end in the semi-finals where she lost out to the eventual winner in a tight contest, however, this was enough still to earn her a creditable bronze medal in third place.
Overall, Westminster performances were good enough to be joint winners (with RGS High Wycombe) of the Centenary Trophy, awarded for he School with the greatest increase in total points from the previous year’s championships. In addition, Westminster were runners-up (to Millfield) in the Nick Halsted Trophy awarded to Schools scoring the most points in Boys’ Mount Haes, Junior and Senior Foil events.
Another highlight of the year took place on Friday with the Schools’ Head Regatta, organised by Westminster down at Putney. However, strong winds did Westminster crews n favours and meant a substantially reduced field with only the top 120 crews able to race, thereby eliminating our Junior Quad and J16 Four. There was medal success nonetheless as Westminster took silver in the J16 Championship Eights, just 3 seconds down on Eton and beating last year’s winners, Aberdeen Schools into 3rd place. There was a second place also in the J16 Second Eights where Westminster improved two places from fourth last year. Elsewhere, the First Eight improved from 13th last year to finish 7th in J18 Championship Eights, although they were disappointed not to break into the top five. There was a 7th place also in J15 Championship Eights where Westminster raced well but just lacked the power to finish higher. Finally, there was a 5th place in J18 Second Eights where the Westminster crew beat half of the First Eights in the race. Overall, Westminster finished fourth in the Victor Ludorum Trophy, behind rivals Eton, St. Paul’s and Shiplake.
There was further medal success though on Friday for the Westminster School Boat Club as Emma Kohlmayer won a fantastic silver medal in the Year 12 Girls section at the National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships held at the Copper Box Arena.
Thursday saw the annual House Competition played out on the Large Courts at Vincent Square. After keenly-fought group stages it was College, Dryden’s, Wren’s and Hakluyt’s who made it to the semi-finals with the latter two progressing to the Final. A close contest saw Halkuyt’s nearly defy the odds of having to play a player short but ultimately it was Wren’s who triumphed narrowly to take the trophy for 2019, with College third and Dryden’s fourth.
Saturday saw three senior teams in action against RGS Guildford, and it brought a clean sweep of Westminster victories. The 1st XI, playing on home soil, enjoyed a narrow 1-0 win, courtesy of a strike from Bhushan Dadarkar, whilst the 2nds and 3rds cruised to more convincing away wins by 5-1 (Ross Plowman with two goals) and 3-1 (Angus Mackay scoring twice) respectively.
This helped to make up for other disappointments earlier in the week where the U14As and Bs both lost to Dulwich College (0-1 & 0-2) and Latymer Upper (2-4 & 1-6), whilst the 4th XI (0-3) and U16As (2-4) also went down to defeat at Dulwich College.
A good old’un beat a good young’un on Thursday when the Old Westminsters – assisted by the School’s Master I/c, Mr Ullathorne – beat the School by 3-0 at the Royal Mid-Surrey Golf Club.