Scottish fencing prodigy Thomas Walton hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps as he embarks on his own journey in the sport.
The Edinburgh ace, 17, is one of the brightest foil prospects in Britain’s cadet age bracket and became national champion at under-17 level last year.
His father Sean was a top fencer in the foil and epee events and Walton junior says their close bond provides him with a much-needed sounding board every time he steps off the piste.
“The day I was born I was given a sword in my hand,” Walton joked. “My dad loved fencing so it came naturally, but it was great to have such a family sport.”
“He’s more than a coach. Because we have a close father-son relationship, he can tell me anything, if I’m having a bad day or a good day, he’ll tell me.
“That’s the kind of feedback I need. He just tells me how it is and I love him for it.
“If something is technically wrong he can tell me, but he certainly helps me a lot mentally too.”
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But despite their shared love of the sport, once the Waltons are in the comfort of their own home, fencing doesn’t dominate the conversation.
“I think my mother insisted that we didn’t talk about fencing at the table,” he added. “I won’t tell my dad how inspiring he is or he’ll get too smug!” But he is definitely my sports hero.
Walton’s development is being supported by British Fencing, who recently launched their new ‘British Fencing Commitment’ setting out the organisation’s cultures and values, both on and off the track, moving forward.
Dusty Miller, head of people and culture at the national governing body, said: “The culture of British fencing is moving towards a ‘fencer-centric’ approach.”
“What we try to do is to put the development of the fencer at the center of our concerns.
“To be centered on the fencer is to put the performance of the fencer and the development of this individual at the heart of the performance.
“The pledge is our binding contract with each other, between the community, the parents and us as the national governing body to support the development and growth of their children, hopefully into high performing adults.”
British Fencing supports fencing and para-fencing across the UK, from grassroots initiatives and school-age experiences to clubs and competitions. The Athlete Development Program supports fencers in their development along the GBR pathway and focuses on three points: fencer-centred, development-focused and competition-supported, placing the fencer at the heart of the competitive fencing. Learn more at britishfencing.com