We had a great couple of days in Ixtapa, Mexico with Owen at the PanAm Youth Games. He qualified to represent the U.S. and fence in the Y-10 men’s foil.
Owen placed fifth overall!
He almost placed third — the match was tied with :30 to go, but the other kid scored. Owen was 6-2 on the day, losing only to the eventual champion and the close match to the 3rd place finisher. AMAZING JOB, OWEN!!!
Almost as exciting (for Owen) was the target shooting he did. I guess he’s just got great all-around fighting skills. They had a target shooting place (is it called a “gallery” or is there some other specific word for that?). Owen and a bunch of older kids and men took turns at the target. Of course, you can guess who beat them all….Owen.
We asked him how he got so good at shooting since it’s not something he’s ever done, other than video games, and he said it was from watching “Top Shot” on TV.
He also really enjoyed the rock wall, after he got over his fear of heights. (see the photos of our trip to Belize, where Owen froze halfway up a temple in Tikal and I had to carry him piggyback the rest of the way up.)
Owen tried to do the climbing wall and got freaked out. The teacher was great — he was very patient and suggested that Owen try again … BLINDFOLDED. It was amazing. Owen shot right up the wall to the top without even pausing. He went back the next day and did the same thing and didn’t need the blindfold.
As much fun as we had at the PanAm games, it was also a bit disturbing in the youth sports sense. I would totally agree with you if you thought it was nuts to take a 10-year-old across the continent to fence in a tournament. (Mainly we did it as a kind of consolation prize because Owen was so sad that he was going to miss Summer Nationals because he would be in Finland the month of July and miss the competition.)
But at least we didn’t pay for a coach to go.
Owen was the ONLY 10-year-old fencer who didn’t have a coach there. That means that all those families paid to have a coach fly and stay to coach kids in a tournament that really doesn’t have any long-term meaning (the PanAm games doesn’t count for ranking points, and ranking points don’t really matter for 10-year-olds anyway.)
To make it even more absurd, there is an international fencing rule that says that if two fencers from the same country are fencing each other, NO COACHING IS ALLOWED during the match. So, all the semi-final/final matches were USA v USA, so that means all those coaches that the families paid for were just standing around during the match. They are allowed to talk to the fencer during water breaks, but can’t speak to them during the match.
(However, I will say that I think Owen would have won the match for third if he’d had a coach to give him some advice during the breaks, especially when it was tied with 30 seconds to go. Kevin tried to help him, but we really don’t know enough about fencing to be helpful. We realized at the February SYC that fencing makes us more nervous than anything. The kid Owen was fencing had a coach there and not only was the coach giving him help during the match breaks, he’d had at least one lesson everyday.)
However, all in all a great time, and we’re so glad we got a chance to go. We really enjoyed meeting the people from USA Fencing, Nancy and Karen, especially and they were so helpful to us as this was our first international tournament.
A few photos are here of our time in Ixtapa and of Owen fencing.