Teen in EC team for the nationals
AFTER only a year of fencing, Paola Signiorile is on her way to the top and will be representing the Eastern Cape at the South African Junior Nationals in Johannesburg this weekend.
Paola is a proud “Clarrie-bag”, having recently started Grade 8 at Clarendon High School for Girls. She started fencing last year through the South African Modern Pentathlon Association (Sampa), under whose auspices she has competed in various tetratchlon events, including the nationals in Bloemfontein, where she received bronze.
Tetratchlon incorporates three different sporting disciplines, namely running, swimming and fencing. “My favourite part was the swimming, because I am a swimmer and have been competing nationally for the past five years,” Paola said.
“I started really enjoying fencing and realised that it is such a unique sport so I decided to pursue it,” added the 14-year-old. Last week Paola competed in the Eastern Cape Championships held in Port Elizabeth, where she walked away with sixth place and an offer to represent the Eastern Cape at the Nationals.
Fencing is still very much a developing sport throughout South Africa, but the Signiorile family hope to develop this elite sport in East London.
In order to do so Paola’s mother, Pearl Signiorile, is training to become a fencing coach. She and her husband also recently started the Buffalo City Fencing Club which now consists of five members, three junior fencers and two seniors (Paola’s mother and father).
“We’ve invested a lot into developing the sport here in East London, not only for our daughter to train, but for anyone who wants to try something very different and unique. “We’d love to open the sport up to as many people as possible,” Pearl said.
“It’s been a long, tough road but last weekend was our first time entering a fencing competition on such a grand scale, and I’m so proud and excited for Paola. She has come a long way,” Pearl added.
Fencing is a very intense and technical sport, which requires discipline, precision and many hours of training.
“The most difficult part is the footwork, because if you get that wrong or lose your balance you can’t make the hit,” Paola said.
Early last month, the Signiorile family held a fencing training clinic with South African Olympic Gold medallist and master coach, Cello Maduma.
“He is absolutely amazing and will be training Paola before her fights this weekend,” Pearl said.
Paola will be fencing in the U15 and U17 categories at the South African Junior Nationals and hopes to be chosen to represent South Africa at the African Games later on this year.
“Fencing is such a unique sport, it has taught me to have discipline and that I can do more if I don’t overthink everything.
“ I can’t wait to go to Joburg! I’m really excited, but really nervous as well,” Paola said.