“I remember feeling so lost the first time I began fencing at nine years old. I hated getting scolded all the time by my fencing coach and being the only young girl in a huge team. Time after time I approached my parents asking if I could quit, but they told me to keep trying.

As a beginner, I never placed any medals in my competitions — but as I practiced more and more, my rank rose higher and higher. I went from no rank to top 10 to top 3 and that progress was so rewarding to see, even if winning wasn’t the most important thing to me. Since I’ve put in the practice to become a better player, I’ve grown to genuinely love fencing. I’ve never asked to quit again.

Whenever I have a bad day, I know I can count on fencing to relieve my stress. When I was younger, my fencing coach always told me: “The moment you put on your mask, you become a different person”. Now, everytime I begin a match, I think back to his advice and place myself in that mindset. It allows me to focus completely on the game and to forget about everything else going on in my life.

I’ve participated in many fencing competitions over the last couple of years, including the Leon Paul fencing tournament in London where I was able to beat the player in first place! My ultimate dream, though, is to someday go to the Olympics and then become the fencing coach of my own team — which is why I’m currently training hard for the Junior Olympics Fencing competition next year.

Fencing is tiring and time consuming but without it, I would never have learned what it means to really love and be passionate about something. It was only after fencing that I developed the habit of recognising and learning from my mistakes rather than just ignoring them — because, for the first time in my life, I found myself caring enough about something to want to improve at it. It’s made every choice since then feel more important and every piece of advice and criticism more valuable.

It’s become a part of my life that I never want to let go — even if I absolutely hated it at the start. The next time you want to try something, go for it! You never know what it’ll be like until you experience it yourself.” — Karen