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Fencing cuts through with new fans

By Sun Xiaochen | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2016-12-12 19:46

On the back of momentum generated by Olympic exposure, fencing's profile in China is set to grow with organizers announcing plans to expand the club league next year.

A new partnership between the Chinese Fencing Association and sports marketing company SECA will drive the league to reach out to more fans next year.

Established in 2009, the China Fencing League has helped the sport gain solid public participation already.

Starting from next year, the amateur league will hold a preliminary phase at six regional tournaments before the best competitors slug it out at the national final in December 2017.

Each of the 3-day regional legs is expected to attract more than 3,000 amateurs who will compete in individual and team events in all three categories of the sport - foil, epee and sabre, according to Shanghai-based SECA.

"All the competitions of each regional leg will be held at one giant venue, which can accommodate as many as 100 duels at the same time. The scale will be spectacular," SECA founder Li Sheng said on Monday.

Despite the disappointing results of Chinese fencers at the Rio Olympics, the sport enjoyed an impressive following during the Games for its elegant style and the cool look of athletes in their protective uniforms.

Promoting etiquette and sportsmanship, fencing has been embraced by an increasing number of Chinese parents as a way of physical education for children.

According to CFA, more than 16,000 participants have signed up with clubs nationwide, mostly adolescents.

Sun Jinfeng, a teenager practicing at Beijing Laoshan Fencing club, said the sport intrigued him for its cool equipment and outfits at first.

"I think it looks handsome to wear fencing outfits and I found it's very interesting after practicing for a while," Sun said.

As marketing and promoting partner of CFA, SECA will launch a new information system for the league where participants can access competition schedules, results and match-ups in advance.

"Hopefully, the upgraded league will help enhance the game's profile and popularity among a wider audience and eventually cultivate more talents for our national teams in the future,"Association secretary-general Yuan Xiangyang said.

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