Vernon’s Matt Clarke is representing Canada at an Olympic fencing qualifying event in Richmond.

Vernon’s Matt Clarke is representing Canada at an Olympic fencing qualifying event in Richmond.

Clarke standing en garde for Canada

A Vernon fencer will look to make a point against some elite competition

A Vernon fencer will look to make a point against some elite competition.

Matt Clarke, a coach with the Okanagan Freestyle Fencing club, is taking part in the Bakonyi Vancouver Men’s Epee World Cup this weekend at the Richmond Olympic Oval.

Clarke is representing Canada in one of the last few remaining Olympic qualifying events on the calendar.

“I’ve always been a competitive fencer,” said Clarke, who took up the sport in 1998 and has been head coach of the Okanagan Freestyle Fencing Club since 2008.

“Anyone who is anyone will be there who wants to get in the Olympics. I couldn’t possibly earn a spot for Rio, but I’m very eager to test my training against some of the world’s top fencers.

“My hard work and passion for my sport has brought me here, and I feel very blessed to have this opportunity given to me.”

In 2015, Clarke finished second at the Western Canadian championships, and seventh at the national finals.

Clarke’s coach, Brendan Robertson of Vernon, will be with his student in Richmond.

Robertson, himself, is a six-time World Cup/Grand Prix competitor.

“As a fencer and a coach for the last 25 years, I haven’t had any athlete as dedicated to learning and pushing himself as Matt,” said Robertson.

“Matt has proven himself as one of the top fencers in Canada, and it is no surprise that he will be representing our country for the last qualifying World Cup before the  Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“Matt and I have been working hard preparing for this event and we expect him to do well.”

The Okanagan Freestyle Fencing Club holds classes in Vernon, Lake Country and Kelowna, and loves to spread its passion to anyone, young or old, looking to try the sport.

Drop-ins are welcomed and equipment is provided for new fencers.

For more information, contact clarke at okanaganfencing@gmail.com or visit www.okanaganfreestylefencing.com.