TEN Eyewitness News: Leaked audio offers insight into what downed South American charter plane

Published in TEN Eyewitness News on December 1, 2016

Online: https://tenplay.com.au/news/national/december/leaked-audio-offers-insight-into-what-downed-south-american-charter-plane

PLANE.jpg

It’s an explanation so simple it makes the loss of 71 lives seem even more tragic.

Leaked audio from the charter flight that killed 71 people in Colombia has revealed the plane was simply ‘out of fuel’ when it crashed into a mountainside on Monday.

On the recordings, the pilot of LaAia Airlines Flight 933 can be heard warning that they have a “total electrical failure” and are “out of fuel”.

Before the audio cuts out, Medellin Air Traffic Control places the aircraft at 8.5 nautical miles from the runway and 9,000ft (2743m) above ground level.

There was no explosion when the plane came down which suggests lack of fuel was the cause of the crash, but one Colombian military source told AFP the absence of it was “suspicious”.

It is not yet known if the lack of fuel was because of a leak in the aircraft or if there was none on board.

Investigators are yet to announce a single cause for the tragedy and a full analysis is expected to take months.

The Brazilian first grade Chapecoense football club had 19 players among those who died.

The team were to play a cup final on Wednesday evening, but instead, fans are gathering at the stadium for a memorial event.

Twenty journalists were also killed.

Flight technician Erwin Tumiri, one of only six who survived, told Colombian media that following safety protocol saved his life.

“Many stood up and started shouting,” he said.

“I put the suitcases between my legs and assumed the brace position.”

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The Sydney Morning Herald: Former politician Pat Farmer to run City2Surf for cancer

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald on August 11, 2016

Online: smh.com.au/…/former-politician-pat-farmer-to-run-city2surf-for-cancer-20160707-gq0lq0

Pat Farmer was 18 when he knew he wanted to run.

Now a holder of several world records, he ended up running around Australia, through the Middle East, and in 2011, more than 20,000 kilometres from the North Pole to South Pole.

“It was, without a doubt, the most incredible feat of endurance I think anybody’s ever done,” he said about the trek, which took more than 10 months.

“I reflect on it now and I don’t even know how I did it myself. You’re in the moment, you plan these things for years, then you just get out there and give it your best shot.”

As a kid, he was inspired by Cliff Young, a potato farmer from Victoria.

Young, at 61, won what Farmer called the “toughest race on earth” – the Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon – in the 80s.

“The wonderful thing about that was it showed me that ordinary people could aspire to doing extraordinary things, not just the elite,” he said.

“Cliff will always be the factor behind all my fundraising and everything I’ve done.”

Farmer dedicated his running career to charity from the word go, and has since raised millions for several organisations and causes.

“For me, it’s not even so much about the running, but what I can use the running to do,” he said.

“It’s taking the emphasis on me setting records, running and racing, and putting it on the needy.”

Farmer said that no matter what field he is in, whether it be sport, business or politics, he is always driven by a love of helping others.

Farmer was elected the Liberal MP for Macarthur in 2001, and served in Parliament as the secretary for education, science and training. He says he is disappointed by Australia’s current political climate.

“I think in my days [they] were certainly more focused on public outcomes than their own personal interests,” he said.

“Today’s politicians need to focus on the community that they represent rather than themselves. At the end of the day, you can talk as much as you like, but you really need to hit the ground running and show people what you’re made of.”

Farmer said that if he wasn’t kicked out of the Macarthur seat by his party in 2009 for living out of the electorate, he would still be in politics.

This year, Farmer is training and running alongside the Cancer Council Gold Team – 25 runners doing The Sun-Herald City2Surf, presented by Westpac.

The team hopes to raise more than $165,000 for the charity, and Farmer said they were well on their way.

“As you can imagine, for me, the distance is much shorter than what I would normally compete in,” he said. “But it’s an opportunity to support other runners to realise their best.”

“You’ll see in the City2Surf, ordinary people from all age groups, and even people with a disability, will complete the distance. To me, that’s a gold medal performance and they are the inspiration for ordinary Australians.”

The Sun-Herald City2Surf will be held in Sydney on August 14.

Register online at: www.city2surf.com.au

The Sun-Herald: 2016 Census: Bungy jump master tops the list of the jobs fewest people do

Published in The Sun-Herald on August 7, 2016

Online: smh.com.au/…/2016-census-bungy-jump-master-tops-the-list-of-the-jobs-fewest-people-do-20160623-gpq2td

Boris Joy is a bungy jump master – a rare find in Australia, with only three recorded in the 2011 census.

The profession tops the list of the 10 least-reported jobs nationwide last time ahead of this year’s census, on Tuesday.

After 10 years in the business, Mr Joy thinks he has one of the best jobs in the country.

“I had been in banking for eight years and decided to do something I’d never imagined I would do,” he said. “I just answered a job for a receptionist, funnily enough, and there you go.”

Being a jump master means that Mr Joy controls the bungy jump deck and is responsible for equipment and the safety of jumpers who visit AJ Hackett in Cairns, Queensland.

He loves being able to engage with people and see how they handle stressful situations.

Mr Joy says there are so few bungy jump masters in Australia because there are only two companies that offer the activity.

“People are always surprised to hear that we’re one of the only ones,” he said. “It’s a difficult business to start up without specialised knowledge of the industry.

“It’s basically as per a need basis. If we need more, then more will get trained up.”

Mr Joy thinks that people may be deterred by the dense Bungy Jumping Code of Practice and complicated insurance process for businesses.

This may explain the remainder of the top 10 most unpopular jobs in Australia – five are in the adventure sports industry.

2. Hunting Guide – four people

This job requires employees to be properly licensed hunters. Hunting licences are difficult to obtain, and guides are mostly required to work out of fully-licensed outfitters who are responsible for staff and insurances. Potential business interests are deterred by complicated processes and hunters often work independently without the assistance of a guide.

3. Mountain or Glacier Guide – 16 people

These guides have the task of leading groups or individuals through mountain ranges and glaciers, where they often partake in high-risk activities such as fishing and hunting, climbing and whitewater rafting. They are responsible for equipment and the safety of participants.

4. Trekking Guide – 24 people

Their work requires them to lead groups or individuals over long walking distances, often through hazardous terrain. Trekking guides must assess the risks involved in a trek and ensure the safety of patrons.

5. Whitewater Rafting Guide – 28 people

Guides, usually employed by licensed outfitters, are responsible for ensuring the safety of participants during this hazardous activity. The adventure sport also relies on a specific natural environment to work; rapids that are particularly dangerous may pose too many risks to customers.

6. Plastic Compounding and Reclamation Machine Operator – 51 people

Operators control mixing and grinding machines to prepare powders and liquids used to make plastics. They are also responsible for the recycling of materials. Machine operators are now largely redundant as most Australian manufacturing is done by machinery.

7. Deer Farmer – 56 people

Deer farms serve as hunting attractions or for the production of livestock. There is relatively little demand in Australia for venison in comparison to other meats such as lamb, beef and chicken. Hunting is generally done on larger grounds, and deer farms only provide limited game.

8. Electrician (special class) – 62 people

Special class electricians service and repair intricate or complex circuitry. They are typically called upon when tasks exceed the capabilities of general electricians.

9. Clinical Haematologist – 72 people 

Haematologists are concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders. As this is a specialist field, demand for these practitioners is less than general medical personnel.

10. Paediatric Surgeon – 76 people

These surgeons deal with fetuses, infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. Although general surgeons are equipped to operate on most younger patients, there are some cases where paediatric surgery is ideal or necessary.

The Sydney Morning Herald Weekend: Jessica Watson: the girl who conquered the world going into uncharted territory

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald Weekend on July 23, 2016

Online: http://www.smh.com.au/sport/jessica-watson-girl-who-conquered-the-world-going-into-uncharted-territory-20160722-gqbpo2.html

Jessica Watson has a start-up yachting business.

Jessica Watson was just 16 when she became the youngest person ever to sail solo and unassisted around the world and now, at 23, she has her sights set on conquering what she expects to be an even greater challenge than her legendary voyage.

When the Queenslander sailed back into Sydney Harbour in May of 2010, she was on the high of her life.

“Of course I was very young. A 16-year-old is a 16-year-old, but the big thing was that there were so many years of preparation. I was ready when I left,” she said.

“I’d come off the boat and I’d spent years with absolutely all my focus on making this voyage happen, so there was a huge amount of adrenaline for quite a few years.”

When Watson returned from her 210-day journey, which took her over 23,000 nautical miles, she was one of the most recognised faces in Australia.

She went on an international book tour for her novel True Spirit, skippered the youngest crew ever to compete in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, was awarded Young Australian of the Year in 2011, and was honoured with an OAM in 2012.

Now, Watson is focusing on another big challenge.

“It’s funny, people want me to say ‘I’m sailing around the world backwards’ or to the moon this time, but the crazy thing is for me that that would almost be the easy thing to do,” she said.

“I wanted to put myself completely out of my comfort zone, which is still within the marine industry and what I love, and take on a completely different challenge.”

Deckee.com is a venture that Watson said got her attention from the start, and as the communications manager, she is working hard to get it off the ground.

“It’s something that immediately struck a chord because as a sailor, as a boatie who is out on the water often, I could immediately see that there’s a need for this,” she said.

Watson described Deckee.com as, essentially, a marine TripAdvisor.

“Boaties” can review marine businesses, vessels, locations, products and services, or view others’ reviews on the site.

“Boating has this incredible word-of-mouth culture, they love sharing their recommendations and opinions and helping each other out,” she said.

“The marine industry still has these gorgeous guides, big thick guides of areas, but we want to give boaties that platform and community online.”

The first version of Deckee was actually launched over a year ago and it became an award-winning site, but Watson said the new site allows for greater possibilities.

“We’ve completely started fresh which is a pretty brave thing to do when we had an award-winning website,” she said, “but it didn’t enable us to scale up in the way that we want to.This new technology is going to give us this incredible ability to map out the boating industry and answer people’s questions in a sort of Google-like fashion.”

Watson is also doing her Masters in Business Administration (MBA) on the weekends between working full-time for Deckee.

“It’s a challenge because obviously there’s so much going on with Deckee at the moment,” she said.

“Studying is a bit odd for a girl who sailed around the world, but I managed to finish school and do my degree,”

Watson is expected to make an appearance at this year’s Sydney International Boat Show, which starts on Thursday, July 28.

The boat show is always a favourite with Australia’s marine community, and Watson said she’s keen to keep up the tradition.

“The show is something I’ve been involved in for years, right back before I sailed around the world,” she said.

“They were really supportive and I have really fond memories, so it’s exciting to be going back this year with a new project.”

The Sydney Morning Herald: Kidtopia Festival 2016: kids should do yoga in schools, Connect Kids say

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald on July 20, 2016

Online: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/kidtopia-festival-2016-kids-should-do-yoga-in-schools-connect-kids-say-20160719-gq8x8k.html

Molly Levin does some yoga in Henley Park in Enfield.

Yoga should be made a mandatory part of the school curriculum, the founder of Connect Kids Yoga believes.

Cynthia Levin said the health benefits of yoga outweigh those of any sport offered in the public school system.

“If yoga was in schools, our kids would be so much calmer and they would be able to cope with all the stuff that they have to do,” Ms Levin said.

“There’s so much pressure on them in society these days that tells them what to do, what to wear, how to feel, how to think, and pressure from their peers and school. Yoga deals with all of that.”

Ms Levin said that kids should start doing yoga as early as possible.

“We teach kids from two, but there are opportunities for kids to be involved even younger than that,” she said.

“There are mums and bubs classes that are available out there as well. The more exposure kids can get, as early as possible, the better.”

US research suggests that yoga can also help kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The research claims it can improve core symptoms of ADHD, including inattentiveness, and hyperactivity.

Molly Levin strikes a yoga pose at Henley Park in Enfield.
Molly Levin strikes a yoga pose at Henley Park in Enfield.  Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

“What yoga gives students that no other sport offers is that their mind, body and soul are enhanced and grown,” Ms Levin said.

Connect Kids Yoga classes will be one of the main attractions at this year’s Kidtopia Festival at Parramatta Park, which will run in the next school holidays from October 7 to 9.

Ms Levin will be holding two classes a day, one for kids aged five to eight and one for children aged nine to 12.

“They just love coming to yoga,” Ms Levin said of the classes for children aged under eight.

“They haven’t got those inhibitions that the older kids have. They really throw themselves into it, it makes a big difference that they haven’t gotten to that age where they’re worried about what people are going to think.”

The Kidtopia Festival will also include attractions such as a circus school, science shows and a petting zoo.

Ms Levin said that preschool aged children will particularly benefit from the tools they learn in class.

“Yoga teaches them to be able to identify when they are feeling a little bit stressed out,” she said.

“The tools that are taught in class help them to calm themselves down.”

The Fairfax Kidtopia Festival is on October 7 to 9, 2016, at Parramatta Park
Tickets are available online at kidtopiafestival.com.au

The Sydney Morning Herald: ANZ Championships: NSW Swifts all stars reaching milestones

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald on July 18, 2016

Online: smh.com.au/…/anz-championships-nsw-swifts-all-stars-reaching-milestones-20160715-gq6rmr

The Swifts’ star players are marking the end of an era as the last days of the ANZ Championships approach, and they plan to go out with a bang.

Captain Kim Green and defender Sharni Layton have been part of the ANZ competition since it started in 2008, and attacker Paige Hadley is hungry for the win after last year’s devastating grand final loss.

“My sole goal this year is to win,” said Hadley.

“Coming off the loss against the Firebirds last year, being within a minute or so of winning the title, you can nearly taste it.”

Hadley said it was back to the drawing board for her game in the 2016 season, but she believed the Swifts’ versatility could dominate in the next few weeks of finals.

“It’s awesome, people play multiple positions where they’re needed, so I think that’s a real asset for us,” she said.

“I’ve never won an ANZ title, so I definitely want to win one before the competition ends.”

Green is the only player on this year’s roster to have experienced the Swifts’ ANZ win back in 2008.

Green plans to farewell the series in the same way she started it, by taking home the trophy, but she admits the Swifts have a challenging few games ahead.

Heading into Monday’s match against the Firebirds, Green said the main focus had been on giving the four quarters their 100 per cent.

“We know that we need to put out a full 60 minutes, and I know that’s very cliche, but that’s exactly what happened to us in last year’s grand final,” she said.

“We learnt that we can’t play 57 minutes of a game then expect to win.”

If the Swifts beat the Firebirds at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, they’ll be crowned Australian Conference champions and will host the semi-final round against New Zealand on their home court.

“In terms of our training sessions, we go hell for leather out on court against each other because everyone’s vying for a position,” she said.

“No one’s sitting on the sideline going ‘I’m just going to be on the bench this week’, everyone’s pushing and that’s the best thing about our team.”

Green, a former Diamond, retired from internationals when she joined the comp in 2016.

After this season, she said she had no plans of slowing down, and her drive to compete professionally was higher than ever.

“I feel like this year I’ve played the best netball that I ever have in my whole career,” she said.

“To think that is on the back of a little bit of a break is really exciting for me. I have no plans of retiring any time soon.”

If the Swifts make it into the grand final, it will be Layton’s 100th ANZ Championship game.

The defender said the Firebird’s attacking end would be the biggest challenge for the Swifts on Monday night.

“Romelda [Aiken] is not as stationary as what she used to be, so that’s a real challenge because no other team is like that with a tall goal attack as well as a tall goal shooter,” she said.

“At the end of the day, they can throw absolutely anything out on us. They’re a phenomenal team, they’ve proven it and played great all year, so we’ll just be concentrating on what we can do to minimise them as much as possible.”

Layton was determined to win, but she said that even a finals loss couldn’t undermine what she’d gained.

“It’s the last year of the ANZ Championship,” she said. “It’s not going to be here next year.

“I just want to soak up every single moment I can with this group of girls because, if you’re not in the moment, you’re not going to win anyway.”

Australian Conference finals: NSW Swifts v QLD Firebirds at Brisbane Entertainment Centre, 7:18pm.

The Sun-Herald: ANZ Championship Australian Conference just the beginning for NSW Swifts rookies

Published in The Sun-Herald on July 17, 2016

Online: smh.com.au/…/final-anz-championship-just-the-beginning-for-sydney-swifts-rookies-20160715-gq6hf1

The ANZ Championship is in its final days, but as the Swifts prepare to face the Firebirds in Monday’s Australian conference final, Sydney’s rookies are revelling in the final moments and planning their next steps.

Amy Sommerville, 23, Lauren Moore, 18, and Kaitlyn Bryce, 21, are all rookies in this year’s competition, and they’re loving every minute.

“You still kind of pinch yourself and think, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m in the team’,” Sommerville said.

“It’s kind of something that you believe will never happen. I’m just taking in as much as I can. I’m really lucky.”

Sommerville has represented NSW since she was 19, but her rise to netball stardom was stopped in 2012 by a knee injury.

“I definitely thought it was going to jeopardise my career,” she said. “In a way, those were silly thoughts I had in my head.

“It took me a little bit longer than most people to get back, but here I am four years later with the Swifts. Now I have lots to look forward to, but lots of hard work to do as well.”

Moore, from the Central Coast, is the youngest member of the team. She was still in school last year when she got the call from Swifts coach Rob Wright to tell her she was in the squad.

“I was in class when I got the call, but of course I took it,” she said.

“I was in tears when I told my family. I don’t even think they could understand what I was saying, I was crying so much.”

Moore was a replacement player for the Swifts last year.

She said she is honoured to be given the opportunity of an elite career at such a young age, but she won’t let her youth hold her back.

“I think it’s a real pleasure to be picked up so young,” Moore said. “It’s not often that you get called in straight out of school.

“Rob [Wright] sees me as a Swift, so my work ethic has to be at the same standard of the other players. He has high expectations for me to take on board everything I’m learning.”

Moore has looked up to star defender Sharni Layton as her biggest inspiration since she was a kid.

“We’re in the same position and we have a lot of personal characteristics that are quite similar, too,” she said. “She’s a free spirit and, similar to Kim [Green], she doesn’t just talk, she goes and does it.”

Bryce, from Nowra, came up through the NSW under-age club system as well.

She says it has always been her dream to be part of the ANZ Championship, and to play in the competition’s final year is a thrill.

“I remember when I watched the first season of the ANZ Championship in 2008; I used to watch them all on the telly on repeat,” she said.

“To actually be a part of it is something that I’ve dreamt of for 10 years now. It’s been an amazing experience and I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Bryce said that once the competition finishes she plans to go back to university and study but, in the meantime, her head is well in the game.

Moore said, and the other players agree, that the Swifts’ biggest advantage going into the finals is their depth and versatility.

“We’re unpredictable to the other teams,” Moore said. “They’re never going to know what hit them!”

Australian conference final: NSW Swifts v QLD Firebirds at Brisbane Entertainment Centre, 7.18pm (doors open 6pm)

Tickets available from Ticketek.

The Sydney Morning Herald Weekend: NSW Swifts MVP Caitlin Thwaites in it for the team, not the title

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald Weekend on July 16, 2016

Online: smh.com.au/…/swifts-mvp-caitlin-thwaites-in-it-for-the-team-not-the-title-20160715-gq6b2n

Caitlin Thwaites may have one of the most vital roles in the Swifts leading up to Monday’s Conference finals, but she’s too humble to admit it.

The 188cm Bendigo-born goal shooter has one of the highest shooting averages in the game, 89.3 per cent and was the Swifts’ MVP of last year’s ANZ season.

“It was a bit of a shock to be honest,” said Thwaites.

“The year that we had and the calibre of players that we had in the team – to be considered amongst the people who would have that and who have won that in the past, I think it’s pretty special.”

Thwaites is going into Monday’s final against the Firebirds on the back of another MVP performance against the Vixens in May, where the shooter scored 35 goals from 39 attempts.

“I think the beauty of this team is that we actually share the shooting load more than any team between the goal shooter and goal attack,” she said.

“It’s always an entire team effort to be able to win these games, not only at the ANZ Champs level, but at the finals level it’s even more so that every person has to perform their role.”

Thwaites is coming up against Firebird’s Jamaican superstar Romelda Aiken, who at 196cm, has taken the role of goal shooter to a new level.

“I’ve had to adapt my game a little bit because I’m no longer one of the talls,” said Thwaites.

“Because I can’t physically be that, I’ve had to add a few more tools to my kit. To find that balance between having the versatility to move around as well as being that strong target and holding the circle is something I’m still working out.”

Thwaites said that even though she’s one of the best shooters in Australia, she still thinks there’s room for improvement.

“I don’t think that anybody ever has a perfect game, there’s always things that you can learn from and improve, and that’s what we do with our video analysis,” she said.

“Even in games that you win by a blow out, there’s always things that you can fix up.”

If the Swifts take home the Australian Conference title next Monday at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, they’ll be able to host their semi-final against a New Zealand team on home turf at Sydney Olympic Park where they’re yet to have a loss in the 2016 season.

Thwaites said that going into next Monday’s match, she’ll be thinking of the team rather than herself.

“Yes, we go out there to do our job for the team, but  it’s not for the individual accolades,” she said.

“The supporters that we have here in Sydney, our members and everybody, are so amazing. That’s a huge advantage for us, so it’s not a knockout final, but we’ll try to win so that we can have a home semi.”

Australian Conference finals: NSW Swifts v QLD Firebirds at Brisbane Entertainment Centre, 7:18pm.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Australian Conference final Swifts v Firebirds: Abbey McCulloch’s State of Origin

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald on July 14, 2016

Online: http://www.smh.com.au/sport/australian-conference-final-swifts-v-firebirds-abbey-mccullochs-state-of-origin-20160712-gq3xpz.html

Blue through and through: Swifts defender Abbey McCulloch.

Abbey McCulloch may have begun her elite netball career with the Firebirds, but on Monday she’ll play off against old teammates as a true blue Swift.

Monday’s Australian Conference final against the Firebirds will be a bit of deja vu for McCulloch, who suffered the Swift’s last minute loss to the team in last year’s grand final, but she said this time they would “get the job done”.

“I think, obviously growing up in NSW, we’ve always had quite a large rivalry with Queensland, and Victorian teams as well, because we want to rule the east coast,” she said.

“I’ve got some good friends up in the Firebirds team so it’s always nice to get one over on your friends as well.”

McCulloch said the Swifts’ biggest advantage in the Conference final will be the experience of some of the team’s key players, including former Diamonds’ player Kim Green, ANZ Championship veteran Susan Pettitt and Commonwealth Games gold medal holder Sharni Layton.

“We’ve got a number of key players in our team who have been around the traps for a really long time, they’ve got the experience, the years and the netball games under their belt, so that will definitely help us, especially because we’ve got quite a few rookies in the team.”

McCulloch said she couldn’t fault the Firebirds, but the Swifts beat them in May and she knew they could do it again using the same tactics.

“I think the biggest difference for us between that game in May and how we’ve played before or since is that we played for 60 minutes,” she said.

“We’ve had a couple of lapses and we haven’t been that consistent across the full four quarters in the past few rounds, so that’s something we’ll definitely be addressing over the next few days.”

The Firebirds will have the home advantage for the Conference final at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre, but McCulloch said the Swifts would beat the crowd with mind over matter.

“We’ll go into the game on Monday just thinking that they’re cheering for us, and they’ll have a big crowd there so, if we go in with that mindset, we’ll be OK,” she said.

“When I was playing for the Firebirds up there and the Origin did roll around for rugby league, I always cheered for NSW. I’m born and bred here, so I’ll always be a NSW girl.”

This year, the Swifts go into the Australian Conference Final on a high from their 67-53 win over the Melbourne Vixens on Sunday.

The results of Monday’s final will determine what New Zealand team each side will face in the semi-finals, before the ANZ Championship grand final decider.

“We get through Monday, then we look forward to the grand final,” McCulloch said.

“Fingers crossed, but I think we’ve got the goods to get it done. To win the last ever ANZ Championship will be the icing on the cake for us.”

Australian Conference finals: NSW Swifts v QLD Firebirds at Brisbane Entertainment Centre, 7:18pm (doors open 6pm)

Tickets available from Ticketek.

 

The Sydney Morning Herald: Youngsters face sport’s cut and thrust

Published in The Sydney Morning Herald on July 11, 2016

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Australia’s best young fencers gathered in Marrickville for the national junior championships, which concluded on Sunday.

Twins Nicholas and Ethan Tastore, 14, from Sydney’s south, came first and second in last Wednesday’s Championship round.

“I was nervous going into it because there’s a lot of tough competition from Australia and even overseas,” said Nicholas, who beat his twin by two points.

“It was great to fence my brother in the final and represent our club well.”

More than 450 male and female fencers – some from New Zealand, Singapore and elsewhere in the world – participated in the event. Ethan, who claimed second place for the Under 15 boys, said that more people should get involved with the sport.

“We started fencing three years ago just for fun, and pretty much the first time I went, I fell in love with it,” he said.

“It’s not about who’s faster, stronger, or taller, it’s about who can outsmart their opponent. The underdog can win.”

Organisers said the annual event is often the starting point for future Olympians.