FROM FENCING TO DEFENCE

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Andrew Leonard

Australia does not have any fencing representation at London 2012 which is why you probably haven’t seen much of the coverage of this ancient sport. 
However at the Sydney Games in 2000, Australia as host had the chance to include a full team of fencers in the three competitions of foil, sabre and epée. 
For Nick Heffernan this was a dream come true. Fencing is one of only five sports to continually feature at the Olympics since the first modern games of Athens 1896 – the others being athletics, swimming, cycling and gymnastics.
Nick first picked up a sword as part of an after school activity when attending Geelong Grammar. 
The highlight for Nick was when Australia made  the quarter finals in the teams event after defeating China – it was Australia’s best ever team result.
The sense of team and team success was what then drove Nick to playing football at Peninsula Pirates Football Club where he played more than 50 games over a few seasons. 
The move from fencing to defence was an enjoyable one as Nick played most of his football at fullback
Nick spoke of those memories this week when he said, “My best memories were playing footy with a great group of guys who put in 100% for the club, I was honored to play footy at the Pirates.”
Nick is now a physiotherapist in Brisbane and remembers fondly both his time as an Olympian in at Sydney, but equally as strong were his memories of playing footy in the ammos. 
Thank you to Peninsula Old Boys Club President Phil Coghlan for getting in touch with Nick and thank you to Nick for recounting his memories of both being an Olympian and playing football at Peninsula. 
Further reading on Australia and fencing at the Olympics:
Australia has not yet won a fencing medal at the Olympics. The best-placed athlete has been Greg Benko, who finished sixth in the individual foil in Montreal 1976. More recently, the men’s epée team placed eighth in Sydney 2000 and Evelyn Halls finished 12th in women’s epée in Athens 2004. Ivan Lund, a four-time Olympic fencer, carried the Australian flag at the Opening Ceremony in Tokyo 1964.