By Michael Sudhalter
Some of the top youth fencing competitors in the world are participating in a two week camp in Oak Forest.
Ari Simmons, a 16-year-old from Bellaire, is the reigning Cadet Men’s Epee world champion in Croatia. He started competing in the sword fighting sport five years ago when he learned about it through a friend.
Simmons has built a friendship with 16-year-old, Zsombor Branyai of Budapest, Hungary, the European champion, in the same division. Simmons won the world championship, but Branyai defeated him in practice.
Both athletes hope to represent their respective countries in the Olympics someday.
Branyai enjoyed participating in the camp, which was held at Lutheran High North kast week and Alliance Fencing Academy, 4141 Directors Row in Oak Forest, next week.
It’s just his second time visiting the United States.
“It is very good — the food, the people, the fencing and the weather,” Branyai said.
About sixty percent of the fencers are from Houston, but others came from places such as Chicago, Colorado, Florida, New York and San Antonio.
Alliance owner Andrey Geva is the coach of the US National Team. He’s developed 24 national champions and North American Cup winners, according to the Alliance website.
Alliance, which Geva has run since 2004, currently has 160 members.
A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Geva competed for the USSR from 1981 through 1989. He moved to Israel in 1990 and was the four-time Israeli national champion from 1990-93 and coached the national team from 1994-99.