Millfield School has enjoyed long had a successful history of involvement in the three fencing disciplines of foil, sabre and épée. In 2015-16 they won the National Public Schools' overall title for a record fifth consecutive year and topped the British Schools' Team Championships medal table with eight golds. Becci Curwen, 15, is an example of their prowess in the sport and with a very matter of fact approach to her achievements.
Becci says: “I first started fencing when I was ten but before that I had been a swimmer – however, I don't miss the early mornings. There are probably fewer girl fencers because I think fencing often appeals to boys because when they are younger they want to be pirates, although some girls want that as well.
I am currently in the under-17 category and go to internationals, mainly in Europe. I have fought in Hungary, Austria and Slovakia in individual competitions and for England in Poland and in Paris. In some places you get to see the city or country you are competing in, although when we went to Austria we only got to go to Ikea!
It gets harder when you get older because when you step up to the under-21s they only take eight people to international competitions rather than 15 as they do for the under-17s. Eventually I would like to go to the Olympics but that’s quite hard so it’s a long way off for me. It’s also hard because other countries are better at fencing than we are in Britain. For example, with the Italians, it’s one of their big sports and children start fencing at four or five. The Russians and the Americans are also good.
I spend about six hours a week formally practising. In the lessons you learn new moves and then look at how you put them into a fight. In addition, I have individual sessions as well as doing work on strength and conditioning.”
Key achievements: 2016 – Under-17 GB internationals women's foil in Budapest, Moedling (Austria), Cabries (France) and Manchester; 2015 – Under-17 GB internationals in Manchester, Samorin (Slovakia) and Moedling.
Becci is sponsored by the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA).