An 11-year-old fencer, whose "natural talent" led her to win several medals and a place in the British Championships just two years after her first 'stab', is seeking funds to help achieve her Olympic dream.
Poppy-Anne Elcock's love story with fencing started just two years ago after a trial at her primary school.
“I was told I had a natural talent and was asked to go along to a training session to see if I liked it,” she explained.
“I went to the club and fell in love with it and really enjoyed sabre. I have never missed a single training lesson. I like that energy you can give to it and no matter what mood you can let it all out and just enjoy it.”
Pictured: Poppy-Anne is the only girl training at the Jersey Fencing Club.
Poppy-Anne now trains once a week at Grainville School with the Jersey Fencing Club. Her favourite discipline is the Sabre, because it is slightly faster than the other swords and gives her "a certain rush" she quite enjoys.
The Grainville School pupil is the only girl training in the club which she says means she has to train hard to keep up with the older boys. “Which is good because it makes me want to get even better,” she adds.
In addition to her training sessions, Poppy-Anne has taken part in the Millfield International Fencing Camp twice, and has also attended sessions at the Oxford and Swindon fencing clubs, where she has met fellow fencers as well as coaches.
Pictured: In just two years, the young fencer has achieved many successes.
She has also been working out hard, including two runs a week with her dad, trampolining, acro dance, athletics and rounders, to increase her fitness for competitions.
In just two years, Poppy-Anne has grown into a “very capable fencer” and achieved many successes.
In May 2018, she qualified for the British Youth Championships (BYCs). Despite it being her first competition, she finished 21st in her age group. “I felt very nervous but also very excited because all my training had prepared me for it and all the hard work,” Poppy-Anne recalled.
In November, she won Gold in the U11 category and Bronze in the U14 category in Guernsey.
Pictured: Poppy-Anne has won two Gold medals and two Bronze ones in Guernsey.
In March 2019, she travelled to Guernsey again and brought home another Gold medal (U11) and a Bronze one (U14). She then qualified for the BYCs for the second time in May, finishing sixth out of 34 fencers.
This most recent success has given her such a confidence boost that the young fencer is hoping to compete more, not only in Guernsey, but also in the UK. She is also hoping to take part in two training camps, in Cornwall and Guernsey, over the summer to build her confidence even further.
“They are very beneficial and help with my fencing a lot,” Poppy-Anne explained. “I don’t have a dedicated Sabre coach at the moment, but these camps will be very more focused on the Sabre discipline which will benefit me greatly.”
Her calendar for 2020 has already starting to fill up with further camps at Milfield, another round at the BYCs and the Leon Paul Junior Series.
Pictured: The young fencer is hoping to raise £1,000 to help with the costs of her courses and flights.
Due to the costs of the courses and flights involved, Poppy-Anne’s parents – Andrea and Matt - have started a crowdfunding page to help raise £1,000.
“I love competitions, the feeling of winning and working hard makes me feel so happy,” Poppy-Anne said. “I would really like to get a higher ranking this year as I feel like my fencing has improved and so has my fitness.”
“We would love to get Poppy-Anne to these competitions and camps to build upon a really positive start to her fencing,” Andrea and Matt said.
"She absolutely loves to fence. She's passionate, willing to learn, and works hard to improve her fencing skills. It would be great if we could hit the initial target and give her more opportunities.”
Pictured: Poppy-Anne hopes to take part in the Olympics in 2028.
Looking to the future, Poppy-Anne has her eyes set on the Milfied School, “an amazing school” she dreams to join full time and the 2028 Olympics.
“Her ultimate dream is to fence in the Olympics, and we would love her to turn this dream into a reality!” Andrea and Matt said.
But the young girl also hopes one day to be able to train other young people. “Hopefully one day I will become a coach and help other young fencers like myself improve.”
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