Marty Williams and Adam Mandel brandished their sabers and took their stances as they prepared to duel Friday for a spot in the final elimination round of the 17th annual Randy Hudson Memorial Saber Tournament.
The two fencers charged each other, strategically parrying and attacking as they danced back and forth across the narrow dueling lane. After several charged minutes of battle, Williams narrowly defeated Mandel, 20, of White Plains, N.Y., for a chance to spar with a member of the Russian Federation team in the tournament final.
“I just love competing,” said Williams, 22, of Plainfield, N.J. “I love the challenge.”
Sabers clashed as 36 young athletes from the United States and Russia competed for trophies and bragging rights in the annual fencing tournament, held in honor of Brooklyn native and fencing enthusiast Randy Hudson.
Hudson took up fencing in the 1960s as a hobby and later developed a love for the sport. An accomplished fencer, he went on to compete in national competitions like the National Fencing Championships in Washington, D.C.
Together, Hudson and his wife, Joan, helped found the Brookhaven Town Fencing Association in the 1960s, along with fencing coach Victor Richie. The fencing club eventually became the Long Island Fencing Club in 1980, which is still operational today.
After Hudson died of a heart attack at the age of 74, his wife and children started the memorial tournament in his honor.
“He was a man who believed in living,” said Joan Hudson, 77, of Brooklyn. “He loved the sport.”
This year’s tournament, held at Mission Fencing Academy in Rocky Point, served as the first time the local fencing camp has been able to host international athletes in the yearly competition.
Fencing requires competitors to use speed and accuracy to score points based on the number of hits they make on their opponents. Athletes wear full-body armor and masks for protection and are limited to striking their opponents above the waist.
This year, a Russian team composed of internationally ranked juniors and cadets as well as national champions traveled to Long Island to compete in the tournament against some of the best young fencers in the US., including 17 Long Island athletes.
“This is my first trip to America,” said Alina Meshcheryakova, 20, of Russia. “This is good training for me, this competition.”
The Russian team proved to be successful in the tournament as Artem Petrov won the open senior men’s saber competition, and Elizaveta Kiryanova of Russia won the open senior women’s saber competition.
Mission Academy coach Jeffrey Salmon said several of the athletes are talented enough to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
“The future of the sport, both national and international, is being represented here,” said Salmon, 44, of Port Jefferson. “We have present and future national champions and possible future Olympians [here].”