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Newham Swords pair prove on point

PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 December 2015

Newham Swords head coach Pierre Harper, Jai Birch, Rajan Rai and manager Linda Strachan

Newham Swords head coach Pierre Harper, Jai Birch, Rajan Rai and manager Linda Strachan

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Duo help GB under-20s shine at World Cup

Newham Swords duo Jai Birch and Rajan Rai helped Great Britain to a fourth-place finish in the team event at the Junior Men’s Foil World Cup in Slovakia at the weekend.

Birch and Rai, the current GB number one and two at under-20 level, produced the best displays of their careers in Bratislava as their team beat Egypt in the last 16 and knocked out Russia in the quarter-finals.

The match against the Russians was extremely close throughout, but the Newham pair dug deep to help GB to a 45-43 victory and a place in the semi-finals.

Hopes of glory were dashed by a very experienced and higher seeded French team, who went on to claim the gold medal, as GB fell to a 45-38 defeat.

But that left them with a chance of bronze as they took on Japan in the third-place play-off.

Despite excellent performances from Birch and Rai, GB lost 45-41 and had to settle for fourth place.

Nonetheless, Swords head coach Pierre Harper was delighted with the achievements of his young charges and said: “Raj and Jai were absolutely superb in the team event.

“They not only showed great team spirit, but also fenced with passion and determination.

“This is one of the best performances from a GB junior team in a World Cup and I am proud to say that two thirds of the team came from the Newham Swords!”

*There was more for the Newham Swords club to celebrate at the weekend as team manager Linda Strachan paid a special trip to the Tower of London to receive her British Empire Medal (BEM).

The former Olympian received the award for founding the Newham Swords and services to the community.

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