A SKIPTON fencer is 'disappointed' that he will not be able to compete for Great Britain at the sport’s Junior and Cadet World Championships in America after the event was cancelled due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus.

Billy Shepherd is one of the top four junior (under 20) athletes competing in fencing in the UK.

His ranking and dedication to the sport won him a trip to Salt Lake City for the tournament which was set to run from April 3 till April 11, where he would have fenced individually against 21 other countries.

Fencing is a group of three related combat sports. The three disciplines in modern fencing are the foil, the épée, and the sabre; winning points are made through the weapon’s contact with an opponent.

The World Championships is usually an annual event held by the International Fencing Federation for athletes up to 20 years old. They are organised at the same time and venue as the Cadet World Championships held for athletes up to the age of 17.

The competition was set to take place in the US for the first time in two decades, South Bend being the last city to host it in the country.

It is now likely that the event will not take place before September.

Shepherd, twice a Yorkshire senior champion, began fencing at the age of seven at Skipton Fencing Club, where he has access to the gym at Aireville Leisure Centre thanks to Craven District Council’s FANS scheme.

With coach Jim Lockyer’s expert guidance and his own determination, Shepherd’s fencing career has gone from strength to strength. Beginning at club level before fast tracking himself through to regional level then national, and finally to where he is at now, the international stage.

Shepherd made his début for England in 2015 in Wroclaw, Poland. In Challenge Wratislavia he was amongst over 2,386 fencers from 31 countries.

Since then he has challenged in competitions all around the world in the likes of Russia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Serbia.

He has also represented Yorkshire in the prestigious Winton competitions.

This season, Shepherd has been chosen to fence in four international events, the European Championships in Croatia, as well as the now postponed World Championships.

He would like to thank his past sponsors, Skipton Mechanical Institute and Skipton Craven Rotary Club, Bruce Dinsdale from Craven District Council, and Specsavers who have recently offered to provide spectacles and contact lenses for his competitions.

Next season, Shepherd will be a senior fencer (ages 20-40 category), he is already ranked in the top 16 in GB.