Annie resumes her dance as the bout continues, but without the vitality she had shown before. Her fast advances and retreats aren’t nearly as fast, and there’s not much variation in her tempo. She’s tired, and she can’t hide it.
Francis senses her fatigue, and feeds off it, becoming more aggressive, forcing Annie to retreat, to be on the defensive. A hard lunge, rear leg propelling him powerful forward, pushes past Annie’s weakened parry, bringing him one touch away from winning the bout and tournament.
I can hear Annie panting as she returns to her starting line. Francis stands at his, breathing calmly through his nose. He’s been letting her tire out, waiting for her to run out of energy, looking for the moment, this moment, to finish her off.
Fence. Annie’s flesch attack begins before Coach Sarah’s command completes, her feet racing towards Francis, catching him off guard long enough to throw off his parry, which Annie ducks under with her foil to score under her opponent’s weapon arm as she races past him. “Beautiful!” I hear Coach Dan yell as Annie’s red light illuminates on the buzzing scoring machine.
Touch right. 14 – 12.
Annie’s pumping her fist as she returns to her starting line. I notice she’s not panting any more. When the bout resumes, Francis advances immediately, closing fast and lunging, catching Annie’s riposte with his counter-parry, striking Annie with his riposte — on her upper arm, just off the shoulder, narrowly missing the edge of her lamme.
Off-target. Stops the action. Still 14 – 12.
Francis must still think Annie’s fatigued because he resumes his aggression immediately. Annie parries, retreats with no riposte — yes, she’s fatigued. A second parry, a third — Francis keeps coming at her, Annie’s dangerously close to retreating off the end of the stip, and then she flesches again, charging straight at Francis and feinting a disengage, landing a blow on Francis’ chest as she stumbles past him.
Touch right. 14 – 13.