Twins’ fencing prowess take them to Europe

Khayelitsha born twin sisters Phakama and Phumza Yantolo (18) have put the area on the fencing map after representing the country overseas last month.

They were among youngsters who took part in the Cadet and Junior Commonwealth Fencing Champions that were held from in July in New Castle, England.

They were selected at the Limpopo Open National Competition which was held in March this year.

They belong to the Blue Khayelitsha Fencing Club. Their interest in the sport started in 2010.

“Our coach (Jenny O’Hanlon) spotted us together with other children while we were swimming at the Khayelitsha Swimming Pool in early 2010.

“She introduced us to other sports codes which include fencing, laser shooting, horse riding and running.

“We dropped out in the middle of the year because we were always coming late from the training,” said Phakama, adding that they reverted to the swimming pool.

They rejoined club in 2013, continuing with all the sport codes.

“Each event we participated in, except horse riding, because we were underage. Our first big competition was in 2016 in George for the provincial competition.

“We played as individuals and in a team and we won bronze,” she said.

Phakama said last December they participated in the national competition known as Cadet and Junior Fencing Championships, held in Soweto, Gauteng.

“We were selected to represent the country in Nigeria at Cadet and Junior Africa Fencing Championships this year.”

The Grade 12 learners from Kwa-Mfundo High School in Harare said they were initially playing for fun, and only became serious as they won medals.

Phumza mentioned well-known fencing champion, Sello Maduma, as their role model. She said they train twice a week, on Monday and Wednesday in Gardens, Cape Town.

“The challenge is travelling around the country or going abroad because we are left behind in school work, even as we have extra classes and tutors,” she said.

Phakama said their wish is to be selected for the upcoming Olympic Games in 2020.

Mother Ndileka Yantolo said she didn’t expect them to be where they are.

“The first time they told me that they are going out to participate in provincial competition, I was in shock. I thought they were doing it for fun,” she said.

Ndileka described them as humble and always indoors.

“Sometimes it hurts me when they are going around to play because they reminds me of their father who died when they were one month old.

“He was gunned down in Mfuleni during a robbery. They don’t know their father, as the closest image they have of him is through photographs,” she said.