Patience is the Sharpest Weapon

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The movements are lucid in my mind: Lunge - contre de sixte - paré en cédant - feinte de riposte. Right on the arm to finally lunge and touch the foot. Green light. I got her. 13-13; only two more touches to win. I can hear her breathing through the dark metallic grid that shields her sweaty face … or is it my own?

“Prêtes? Allez.” I advance over to her end of the piste. She’s aggressive: I can provoke her gently by faking a – red light. No! I get back en garde. Focus. I can still win. She’s tired. I catch a brief glimpse of her eyes before she dons her mask after fixing her dishevelled ponytail. She’s lost her concentration. Two minutes left: plenty. I take my time, nimbly skirting back and forth along the piste. She submits right into my steady rhythm. Confidence often leads to heedlessness. Inattention can be fatal. Back, back, one more, … green! My flèche hits her directly on the shoulder. Her furious roar is deafening. Back to the two-metre line. Just one more, this time no dawdling. “Allez.” Her adrenaline is clearly flowing. She tries to engage, but abandons the idea and starts to rapidly gain territory. Overly aggressive. I push back. 15 seconds left. Her coach screams something in Italian and she falls back towards the...

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