With just a few years of fencing experience, Thomas Greenwood flew across seas to compete in the Commonwealth junior and cadet fencing championships in New Castle, England.
Greenwood placed fifth in the individual under–17 cadet saber event out of a total of 26 athletes.
In fencing events, two athletes tie for third place, meaning Greenwood, 16, was just one point away from an international bronze medal.
Greenwood, from Pitt Meadows, also competed in the u-20 junior saber event and placed 13 out of 32 athletes.
Getting invited to the Commonwealth championships required a series of national competitions to determine where he stood in Canada based on high-performance selection points.
At the 2018 Canadian Fencing Championships in St. Catherines, Ont., Greenwood finished among the top eight fencers that were not aging out at the national level in Canada, which earned him a spot to compete in the Commonwealth championships.
“I like how it’s physically and mentally connected and everything that goes into it,” Greenwood said of fencing. “It’s not a team. It’s all on you. So at the end of the day, you’re either the winner or you have the blame.”
Of the three styles of fencing, Greenwood chose to pursue saber because he enjoys how it makes him think on the spot.
Israel Cando, Greenwood’s coach at Tri-City Fencing, described saber as a trusting and cutting weapon, which makes it a faster and more athletic weapon to handle.
Greenwood has been competing in fencing for approximately three years, and his mother was the person who first suggested he try the sport.
“It was something my mom put me into in hopes of enjoying it, ‘cause I was playing lacrosse and she didn’t like standing in the cold,” Greenwood added. “It was something she hoped I would enjoy and I picked it up.”
Greenwood travels to Port Moody to the Antaean Fencing Club and the Tri-City Fencing Academy to train.
He said those clubs are the closest available and have the coaches he’s best connected with.
Cando said Thomas’ enthusiasm for the sport is what really drives him to succeed.
“He was getting everything really fast, he had this interest in learning the sport, the physical ability, and he’s a huge fan of the sport.”
Cando said Greenwood is the only athlete from the club that has competed in the Commonwealth championships.
Being a top fencer in the country is difficult, explained Cando, because fencers first have to compete in a circuit of tournaments across Canada.
“I’m very proud Thomas was able to accomplish this and represent our country. It’s a reward in itself. In sports, very few things would be better than that. I hope this inspires him to move forward and continue pursuing his dreams,” said Cando.
Greenwood trains approximately three times a week, 2.5 hours per session. On top of that, he also does a fitness program and cross training.
Greenwood was accompanied by his mother and grandmother on his international journey.
“He lost bronze by one point, just one touch. But I told him, ‘You’re fencing in a country that’s had fencing as a sport longer than Canada’s been a country,’” said Greenwood’s mother Sheri.
She travels with her son to competitions nearly every month, often to Seattle, Oregon, or eastern Canada.
Between training and competing, Greenwood also maintains being on the honour roll at school.
Cando explained that fencing is not an easy sport since it requires a lot of travel and discipline.
“The family is amazing how they work together to give Thomas this opportunity. As I said, in the beginning, it’s not easy to join this type of sporting event. For you to be successful, you have to fight for it, physically, psychologically and emotionally.”
After he finishes school, Greenwood’s goal is to find scholarships for fencing at post-secondary schools.