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29 December 2005

Girls are cutting it at swashbuckling sport

CUTTING edge: Hannah Shackleton, 14, just one of the many girls from the North West who have taken up fencing.CUTTING edge: Hannah Shackleton, 14, just one of the many girls from the North West who have taken up fencing.

SWASHBUCKLING is no longer a male preserve and Catherine Zeta-Jones is proof of that.

The Hollywood superstar is now inspiring Tameside's girls to follow in her lead.

The star’s latest film, The Legend of Zorro, has led to a big demand for fencing lessons from young girls wanting to emulate her dazzling on-screen adventures.

Hyde Technology School on Old Road, Ashton has been running fencing classes for its pupils for the last 10 years.

But this year the class was so popular they had to borrow extra equipment – and the surge in numbers was caused by an influx of girls.

Former Olympic fencing coach Les Jones said: "We have only ever had one girl in the beginners’ class before.

"But this year we doubled the numbers in the class to 12 and half of them are girls.

"I think it's all down to Catherine Zeta-Jones in the film The Legend of Zorro."

The six girls are now learning how to handle the sabre with their schoolmates in the fencing classes run each Thursday evening.

With over 50 years coaching experience, Les knows a thing or two about sporting talent and he thinks he may have found some future stars.

"It's in the early stages but one but one or two of the girls show great promise," he said.

First published by the Tameside Advertiser

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