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En garde! Local teen is a fencing champion

East Rockaway sophomore will compete in Hungary

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Teenage fencer Andrew Machovec, a sophomore at East Rockaway High School, will head to Budapest, Hungary, next month to compete in international Cadet Circuit tournaments, after earning a national championship in foil at fencing’s summer nationals in San Jose, Calif., in June — and the No. 1 ranking in the country in Youth 14, the 12-to-14 age group.

In Cadet men’s foil, for those ages 16 and under, Andrew is currently ranked seventh in the country, and he also finished 10th in junior men’s foil (ages 19 and under) in San Jose.

Andrew, who just turned 15, started fencing at the Freeport Recreation Center when he was 10. He progressed quickly, and a year later he was training at the 5T Fencers Club in Mineola.

“I fell in the love with fencing the first time I held a foil,” he said. “My coach, Gidon Retzkin, has taught me so much in the four years I’ve been at the club. He’s worked hard to help me be the best that I can be. I like that it’s a sport in which every bout is different, and that to win you not only have to be athletic, but also be able to think quickly.”

Fencing has taught him a lot, Andrew said, including that the losses can be difficult because there is no one to blame but yourself. “I’ve learned to take those losses and learn from them, to help me grow as a fencer and as a person,” he said. “When you have experienced loses, the wins are that much sweeter.”

Andrew has been coming to the 5T club for four years, and trains six days a week under the tutelage of Retzkin and another coach, Jonathan Tiomkin. Retzkin, who is now his personal coach, said that he saw potential in Andrew almost immediately.

“I convinced his mother that he could be one of the best in the country — and even in the world — if they listen to me and he trains hard and does everything I tell him to do,” said Retzkin. Andrew’s progression, he added, has been amazing. “It’s been four years, which is almost nothing,” Retzkin said. “For most fencers it takes between six and eight years to master … but he really did it in the first two or three years.”

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