Although fencing is not a mainstream sport, twin sisters have proven that you can receive national and international recognition.
Ricardo MacKenzie, member of provincial parliament for Mitchell’s Plain, says the youth is very important for the community and Phakama and Phumza Yantolo from Khayelitsha are an inspiration. MacKenzie was very impressed with the twins and their achievements in the sport.
He says Phakama and Phumza joined the youth development programme about four months ago.
“The twins have done really well and are signing new contracts to continue their participation in the programme,” he says.
The duo, who fence for Blues Fencing Club in Gardens, were selected for the junior South African team last year.
The Khayelitsha twins competed in Lagos and the United Kingdom.
Phakama says they first got involved in fencing when they competed in a pentathlon in 2011.
“A pentathlon consists of five different events including fencing, freestyle swimming, equestrian show jumping, and a final combined event of pistol shooting and cross country running,” explains Phakama. She says she chose to continue fencing because it is a unique sport. “This is a sport you don’t see much of where we are from.” She says they are currently preparing to compete at a competition in Pretoria next month.
Phakama says they usually train twice a week but will train three times a week when it gets closer to a competition like the upcoming one. “We do strength and conditioning training and both have individual lessons,” she says.
Phumza says she loves fencing because of the various techniques and the level of difficulty.
“You have to learn to become patient and think about every single move you make,” she says.
Phumza says she has become an inspiration for the community.
“Young children look up to us because this is not really something that you hear of in Khayelitsha,” she adds. Phumza says they previously belonged to a fencing club in the area but they had to find a new club.
She says to prepare for their upcoming competition they are completing a 30-day exercise.
“We watch videos of other competitions because we have never been there before and someday, we would like to be there.”
Phumza says seeing other people compete in these competitions motivates them to work even harder to achieve their goals.
Phakama says one day, they hope to open a fencing club in the area.