In a week that has celebrated Scottish Women and Girls in Sport, thirteen year old twins, Honor and Lucia Paul, are impressive examples of how far young women can take their chosen discipline when the right mix of talent, commitment and inspiration is there.
The twin sisters, who train three times a week at Salle Ossian Fencing Club, have been competing in the Youth Development Series in Fencing Sabre since they were only 10 years old. From their first performance at this level, they were selected to represent Scotland at the international tournament in Poland and since then have gone on to compete in further at regional level and at national level in the Scottish schools completion.
We've represented Scotland for the last 3 years in the Youth World Fencing Tournament which has been a real honour.Honor commented, “We have just returned from competing in the Flemish Open in Ghent, Belgium where I won first girl in a mixed competition and 8th overall.
We have competed in the several of the UK Leon Paul Series competitions and have represented Scotland for the last 3 years in the largest Youth World Fencing Tournament in Wroclow in Poland, which has been a real honour.”
Honor and Lucia started fencing when they were only 6 years old; by chance they had shown an interest in the sport around the time Phil Carson was starting up Salle Ossian and the pair took to it immediately during a ‘come and try’ session at Perth High School.
The session had been led by Vicki Carson, an International fencer boasting several accolades and wins, and even today, Salle Ossian has a culture of women and girls competing at national and international level.
Because the pool of athletes at British Youth Development level is relatively small, there is less gender segregation than in other sports and the girls train with, and will often compete against, the boys.
Phil Carson, Salle Ossian’s lead coach explained, “At Salle Ossian most of our coaches are women international athletes who are also great mentors and an inspiration to young girls. #SheCanSheWill
We work hard to create a culture where boys and girls train together and this is proving its worth as our youngsters are showing impressive form internationally."We work hard to create a culture where boys and girls train together and this is proving its worth as our youngsters are showing impressive form internationally.
“Honor and Lucia for instance, are working very hard and heading towards Scotland youth team places and we’re confident they’ll achieve their goal of making it to Barcelona next year.”
Lucia explained, “We saw a video of a major competition online and thought that the sport looked interesting. We asked dad to see if there were any local clubs and we loved it right away! It's really different, exciting and our club has a real community spirit and fabulous women role models for us.
“When we started out Dan Scott came up to the club to watch us train and he devised a programme of strength and conditioning around the moves we make. Fencing is a high impact sport and you travel at speed so the force through your body means you have to be strong, and really fit.”
Today, the pair benefit locally from being part of the Live Active Leisure Talented Athlete Scheme and the Strength & Conditioning Performance Squad; as part of this they train twice a week at the Strength and Conditioning Gym at Bell’s Sport Centre where they are coached by Gil Stevenson.
“We go to the strength gym at a Bells and use the pool too. The talented athlete scheme offers us the chance to work with a really well respected strength coach and that has helped our fencing progress very rapidly.”
The girls train with one another for warm ups and often end up facing one another in finals.
It quite often goes to 9-all, but we’re play at such a similar level – and we’re both really competitive – that the wins are almost even.Honor commented, “It quite often goes to 9-all, but we’re play at such a similar level – and we’re both really competitive – that the wins are almost even! We’re looking forward to competing at the U14 Barcelona European Circuit Comp in April 2020 and we are both hoping to qualify again for the British Youth Championships in Sheffield in May of next year.”
Lucia encourages everyone to give it a go, especially girls who are looking for something different. “It might not be the first sport girls thing of when they’re looking for something but fencing really is a sport for everyone and there are lots of opportunities to compete once you get the hang of it. Give it a go!”
Together with Sportscotland and the Tayside & Fife Institute of Sport, Live Active Leisure works in developing the additional needs of high achieving athletes in the area.
These are the young athletes who demonstrate the skill and commitment required to represent Scotland and Great Britain on an international stage. Live Active Leisure’s Talented Athletes’ Scheme supports these young people by providing assistance and free access to their venues.
These are the young athletes who demonstrate the skill and commitment required to represent Scotland and Great Britain on an international stage.This enables them to reach their full potential and to achieve world class performance levels. This is about nurturing and developing our local talent by helping these young athletes train and grow in the support network of their home towns and city.
By doing this, they hope to inspire other youngsters in Perth and Kinross and to bring that real sense of achievement a city embraces when celebrating the success of one of their own.
Members of the Talented Athlete Scheme can also apply to be part of the Perfromance Squad. These opportunities have been made possible with financial support from both The Gannochy Trust and sportscotland.
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