Dedication and ambition has paid off handsomely for up-and-coming young fencer Niamh Noble with a maiden international call-up.
In March, the 14-year-old epee fencer will travel to Wroclaw, in Poland, as part of the England Under 15s squad to compete at Challenge Wratislava.
It is the first year Niamh, from Frisby, has been eligible to fence for England, having represented the East Midlands several times in her fledgling career.
She consolidated her selection with an excellent performance at the Cambridge Winter Open.
Competing against a field of experienced adult fencers in the senior competition, Niamh showed consistency in the two pool stages and then came through four elimination rounds to reach the semi-finals and win a bronze.
She said: “It was a great start to my competitive year and gives me real encouragement to work hard for the remainder of the season.
“It was a really enjoyable event with a bonus that my club-mate also took a bronze in the men’s epee.”
Niamh took up the sport four years ago in her home village with the Frisby Fencers, run by head coach Richard Sharpe.
She now travels to Peterborough for regular training at the OPS Epee Club with former Commonwealth Games fencer Chris Howser.
Mum Siobhan added: “We were really lucky that we lived near to the club in Frisby, but when she got to 12 or 13, Niamh was the only girl to stick it out so we had to move clubs.
“She is still invited to fence at Frisby with the adults and does really well.
“There is a wealth of experience at Peterborough and it’s a different world for us. She has come on massively in the last two years.”
Further positive news came when Leicester-shire and Rutland Sport agreed to continue funding Niamh for anther 12 months through their Go Gold programme.
The scheme also gives her free access to the facilities at Waterfield Leisure Centre, run by Go Gold sponsors Everyone Active.
The Ratcliffe College pupil now has to juggle her fencing ambitions with GCSE studies, but from next season will be targeting a place in the Great Britain age group squad.
Siobhan added: “Over the next 12 months Niamh will be trying to gain points on the under 17s cadet circuit so she will be competing across multiple age groups. She wants the England selectors and Talent Pathway to keep their eyes on her.”