Mark Lundborg, fencer and CFO of Issaquah’s Washington Fencing Academy (WFA), has won a national championship in veteran men’s individual saber at the 2019 USA Fencing National Championships in Columbus, Ohio.
The 59‐year‐old athlete has garnered several national medals, but this is the first gold medal at a national championship. WFA fencer Ellen O’Leary, already a USA national champion, also took gold in veteran women’s 70‐79 saber at the USA Championships.
Saber is one of three fencing weapons (the other two are epee and foil). In fencing saber, competitors may strike valid points on their opponents above the waist. Touches may be made with the point or the side of the blade against an electrically conductive jacket (known as a lame), and in the veteran rankings of fencing, elimination matches go to 10 points.
The USA Fencing National Championships include events for veterans, youths, and adults (“seniors”) in multiple age categories for all three weapons. It is the largest fencing tournament in the world, with nearly 100 events taking place annually over 10 days.
Lundborg and two other members of WFA will travel to Cairo, Egypt in October to compete representing the USA at the 2019 Veteran World Championships in October.
The Issaquah resident of more than 20 years has always found fencing to be interesting. Lundborg began in his 20s, but took a hiatus to raise a family and pursue other interests. After a few physical injuries, he returned to fencing in his 40s.
When he returned to fencing, he attended Salle Auriol Seattle (SAS). However, the distance between his home in Issaquah to Seattle became inconvenient. He then joined WFA around 2005.
For Lundborg, he never expected to win national championships — much less advance to world championships.
“I never expected to win,” he said. “It’s fun to do it. It’s fun to compete and you always try to get into the top eight if you can — those are the ones that get medals — but it’s just fun.”
Leading up to the Fencing National Championships in Columbus, Lundborg said he felt unprepared for the day.
“I hardly slept — my girlfriend suffered an accident the night before and broke a couple ribs, so I was worried about her,” he said.
However, Lundborg had what he called “a good day” in Columbus.
“I was nervous as hell in the finals where I always wanted to be, my last chance at age 59, and I just went crazy,” Lundborg said. “I was in the zone.”
Lundborg faced William Becker — a former board advisor to the WFA — in the final match, winning with a 10‐3 score.
“This was a product of hard work he has done over the season. We’re all very proud of Mark as well as Jeff’s and Ellen’s achievements,” said Atilio Tass, WFA head coach. “I think they are all great examples of how adult veteran fencers are competing nowadays at a higher level. Their dedication is commendable.”
At his age, Lundborg said fencing isn’t getting easier but he’s glad to be pursuing the sport.
“It’s rare for a 59-year-old to win a championship like this,” he said. “I never expected to win.”
Lundborg said he’s excited to compete in Cairo in October.
“It’ll be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to seeing a new part of the world and doing what I love,” he said.
Above all, he said he most enjoys seeing kids come in and try fencing.
“I love coaching the kids and seeing them mature and compete,” he said. “I love seeing their confidence grow.”
Lundborg said he advises people to try fencing. “You can compete at any age and it’s a great workout, and it’s just so much fun,” he said.