Long Stratton fencer chose to represent England at the Commonwealth Fencing Championships in Australia

Julie Henson has been chosen to represent England at the Commonwealth Fencing Championships. Picture

Julie Henson has been chosen to represent England at the Commonwealth Fencing Championships. Picture: Norfolk Fencing Union - Credit: Archant

Long Stratton fencer Julie Henson has been selected to represent England in the Commonwealth Fencing Championships in Canberra, Australia, in November.

Julie set herself this objective last year and to achieve this embarked on a series of high level competitions, both at home and abroad.

To be eligible for selection, individuals have to prove themselves in both domestic and international competition. To this end, Julie entered a number of events approved by the Federation International Escrime (FIE). This saw her fencing in: Croatia, Estonia, Spain, Sweden, Serbia, Hungary and Finland.

Henson managed to establish herself quite quickly in the top 10 of the nation's epeeists, ultimately being ranked as the Great Britain's (GB) number two. This was primarily based on her performances on the domestic circuit.

The international events have seen some of Europe's top women fencers competing. Henson, along with the other GB contestants, have been challenged by this level of competition but in the main she has managed to secure a middle ranking overall. This has proven valuable experience, which has seen a gradual increase in her confidence.

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Apart from a small sponsorship from the Sportspark's Sports Academy, Henson has had to fund her involvement in the European fencing calendar from her own resources. This was not helped, when travelling to Stockholm, her airline misplaced her fencing bag containing all of her epees.

Each competitor must have a minimum of three weapons, which must meet the FIE's exacting safety standards. Henson had to purchase replacements, amongst other technical equipment, at the event, so that she was allowed to compete. Her original equipment turned up the day after the event.

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Henson has been fortunate to have the benefit of coaching and guidance from Tom Bennett, who in 2012 was men's number one epeeist, who had prepared to Olympic level standard. Bennett is a member of the Norfolk Fencing Club's coaching team. He will work with Henson with the aim of achieving peak performance in time for the championships.

However, prior to this, Henson will continue to fence domestically, which will involve defending her title at the Norfolk Open, to be held at the Sportspark in July. Before that she will represent GB in the European Championships, to be held in Serbia, during June.

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