Gillian Sheen Obituary | Fencing

Gillian Sheen, who died at the age of 92, was the first and only Englishman to win a gold medal in fencing at the 1956 Women’s Individual Foil Tournament in Australia. Given that Britain participated in fencing at all competitions except 1896 and 1904, her achievements are in brilliant isolation. This is the peak of the sport traditionally dominated by French and Italians.

The scene is a dentist during the day, and it is said that he exerted great power on his wrist by pulling out his teeth. But in reality, she relied more on style than strength and was known for her classic techniques in the days when she began to witness the movement of new brands of sport.

She happily admitted, “It’s good to walk and skip. The scene worked hard to advocate a steak with watercress and a glass of burgundy after a practice session. I preferred to focus on the fencing master Leon Bertrand’s saying, “The best training in fencing is fencing.” “.

Her favorable routine for two years before winning the gold medal was a lesson at a fencing club after work, followed by a match against someone who happened to be available, regardless of ability. “Even if we fenced the weak, we had to find their tactics and timing,” she said.

Gillian Sheen at the 1956 Olympics. “Mother and father will be pleased,” she told a journalist interviewed about her victory. Photo: PPP

The regime proved to be a good preparation for the 1956 Olympics, even if it was ready for a four-day flight from London to New York, San Francisco, Hawaii, Fiji and Sydney. Scene, who was 28 at the time, had won several British national championships by that stage, but in the semi-finals despite arriving in Melbourne as a ranked outsider and starting well on the first round stage. I had a hard time. Only 2 out of 5 win.

However, the icy final victory over Hungarian world champion Lydia Domerky took her slightly to Round Robin’s final pool. There she lost the opening match with the strong Romanian Olga Olban, but responded with a dazzling run of six victories. Most of them were knife edge encounters. After finishing the level with Orban at the top of the final group table, she was thrown into the gold medal winner-take-all match.

In that tense, one-off “barrage” match, the scene took a 3-1 lead and was then pegged 3-2. After that, Orban aggressively tried to take the initiative and successfully parried to win 4-2. .. Rushing hard to celebrate the new Olympic champion, British team manager Charles de Beaumont slipped brilliantly on a sophisticated stage, barely avoiding a piercing of the scene’s foil.

De Beaumont wasn’t the only one who was surprised at the victory. There were no British journalists reporting the event. When the scene told a foreign journalist in a post-match interview that “mother and dad would be happy about it,” it had to be broadcast home via a comment agency report.

Mother and father – Ethel (formerly Powell) and city accountant Ronald Sheen – were a wealthy couple living in St. John’s Wood in northern London. Sheen was born in Willesden and began fencing as a boarder at a girls’ school in North Foreland Lodge, based during World War II at Lidney Park in Gloucestershire. At the Salle Bertrand Fencing Club in London, she became a Bertrand student. After winning the title of British Female Student in 1945 and the British Junior Championships in 1947, she studied dentistry at the University College Hospital in London, where she won the Women’s College Championship five times in a row. I got it.

Gillian scene competing in 1957

Sheen won the first title of 10 British National Cyclocross titles in 1949, won the gold medal at the 1951 World Student Convention, and was selected to compete in the first Olympic Games in Helsinki in 1952. I did. Foil event.

Two years later, by that time she became a member of London fencing A club and working as a dentist surgeon at the National Dental Hospital in London, she won a silver medal on individual foils at the British Empire and Federal Games in Canada in 1954. However, when the next Olympic Games were held in 1956, she was considered a fringe candidate in the field of 23 participants from 11 countries.

The 1956 Olympics were the first to use electronic scoring equipment for judging, and the scene found that this innovation improved focus. “It was a feature that really helped me,” she recalled a few years later. “There is no doubt that the hits are much more confident that they will be clean and clear.”

She was also helped by the fact that Olympic champion Irene Camber Corno of Italy was absent from the competition in anticipation of a baby. Nonetheless, it was surprising that she had participated in the tournament so far, and there was even more upset that she continued to win the tournament.

Currently at the top of her game, Sheen won the 1957 Scandinavian Championship and won the gold medal in the British Empire and Federal Games in Cardiff in 1958. Her last British National Cyclocross victory took place in 1960, when she defended the Olympic title in Rome. However, her stay there only lasted until the second round. And in the British Empire and Commonwealth games held in Australia in 1962, she couldn’t finish more than 5th place on an individual foil.

After quitting fencing, Gillian Sheen settled in the United States with her husband
After retiring from fencing, Gillian Sheen settled in the United States with her husband

She met Bob Donaldson, an American orthodontist, while competing in the World Championships in Philadelphia in 1958. They got married in 1962, Sheen quit sports the following year, quit his job as a dentist at St. Panclas Hospital in London, and moved to the United States with Bob. Later, she focused on raising four children in New Jersey, and she maintained British citizenship, but they remained in the United States for the rest of her life.

When the children grew up in the late 1980s, Sheen opened a dental clinic on the island of Montserrat in the Caribbean, where he cast spells every year until a volcanic eruption buried the building in ashes in 1995, forcing him to give up. Was there. Venture.

Despite being away from the UK, she stayed in touch with British fencing activities and returned to special events (including the 2012 London Olympics) to donate money to help train young fencing players. did. In New Jersey, he taught fencing at a local community college until he was 80 and became an MBE in sports services in 2019.

so interview In her 80’s, the scene revealed that her memory of being awarded her gold medal in Australia still has the power to produce goose bumps. “I put the medals in a silver box and put them on the coffee table in the living room,” she said. “That’s what I can see, but not so much on your face.”

Bob died in 2004. She has survived by children, Bruce, John, Jane, David, and 11 grandchildren.

Gillian Mary Sheen, Fencing and Dentist, born August 21, 1928. Died July 5, 2021

Gillian Sheen Obituary | Fencing

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