Ten-year-old Lucy-Belle Williamson has won a place on the England Fencing Tomorrow’s Achievers programme.
Lucy-Belle, who lives in Earby, will join a select group of under-15 fencers from around the country who will work with some of the country’s finest coaches as they prepare for international fencing careers.
Training days are held in Oxford every two months.
The achievement comes hot on the heels of a very successful 2013 which saw Lucy-Belle take gold and bronze medals at the British Youth Championships, as well as being ranked number one in the National Leon Paul Junior Series, North West Junior Series and Yorkshire Youth League. She won medals in all but one of her 25 competitions.
Lucy-Belle is on target for another set of victories this year, even though she is only just officially old enough to compete in the under-11 age group where she will now spend two years.
She even used a holiday to Malta to hone her skills, having five training sessions with the Maltese cadet squad.
“Being invited to fence with the squad in Malta was amazing,” said Lucy-Belle, who goes to school in Foulridge. “They have very exciting and scary training – too dangerous for England!”
Her father, Ian, said: “Lucy-Belle is by far one of the most committed young athletes I have ever seen.
“She understands balance in life but she is driven by a goal to be the best. Today it is not enough to be passionate – you also need access to facilities, coaching and equipment and while Lucy-Belle has some of these, we know her international competitions are going to need a lot of extra funds.
“She trains twice a week at Skipton Fencing Club with her coach (James Lockyer) who is equally motivated and understands Lucy-Belle very well.
“She also has the support of Pendle Leisure Trust where she trains and swims over five times a week and as a family we are very supportive of her and her sister Lexie, who is in her second year of fencing.
“We have to be – the thousands of miles travelling, hotels, equipment, coaching and competition fees are very expensive and require us to be equally committed.”
The icing on the cake for Lucy-Belle was a surprise substitution into the Under 17 National Cadet Winton Yorkshire Team.
She was there as a spectator but due to injury had to step in and helped Yorkshire take its only women’s foil victory of the competition.