Friday, June 18, 2010

En garde! Fencing World Cup comes to Brooklyn

Forget soccer. This month, Brooklyn is the international home of swordplay as the Fencing World Cup comes to the Marriott today through Sunday.

Some of the best fencers in the world will be competing throughout the weekend, among them Flatlands native Nzingha Prescod.

Only 17 years old, Prescod (at left) is formidable with a foil, one of the more popular fencing forms, probably because the goal is to nail your opponent in the vest. The Stuyvesant HS senior is a two-time world champion for her age bracket and weapon.

“All the swords are pretty technical, but people say the foil is for more clever people,” said Prescod. (That’s no joke: this fall, Prescod heads to Columbia University, a respectable institution of higher learning.)

The teen has traveled the world, including Germany, China and Korea this year alone.

“I’m really excited” to have the competition right in our backyard, said Prescod, who’s competed in three previous World Cups, placing third for women’s foil in one. This year, she’s shooting for the top 16, and will be among the youngest competitors at the World Cup, competing against fencers in their 20s and 30s.

Nearly 300 athletes from over 20 countries are expected to compete in the men’s and women’s saber and women’s foil at the yearly competition, including two-time American Olympic Gold medalist Mariel Zagunis and three-time Olympic Gold medalist Valentina Vezzali of Italy.

“It’s a very exciting sport to watch,” said Liz Cross, executive director of the Fencers Club in New York, which is sponsoring the event. “It’s very fast moving, very high intensity. If you slip and start thinking about something else, you’re done.”

For the fencing novice, there will be commentary provided for each match. So even if you don’t know a foil from a sabre, you won’t miss a thing.

Fencing World Cup at the Brooklyn Marriott [333 Adams St. near Willoughy Street in Downtown, (718) 246-7000], June 18-20. Admission is free. For info, visit

Photo by Stefano Giovannini


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