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Trailblazer Katie Arup hopes to pass on her experience from the 1984 Olympics to the next generation of female fencers after upskilling in the family business.
Arup was part of Team GB’s fencing side that finished seventh in the team event at the Los Angeles Games and has followed in the footsteps of her mother, who introduced her to the sport aged seven, by becoming a coach.
Born in London, Arup moved to Northern Ireland and started a fencing club in Belfast 25 years ago alongside her husband and double Olympian Johnny Davis.
Arup, 58, said: “I was so unbelievably proud to represent GB - it felt very good.
“As an athlete you train very hard and there are only very few moments where you get that huge reward kick for all of the hard work that you put in.
“Walking around the opening ceremony behind the GB flag was one of those occasions, it was amazing.”
Coaching has no boarders and is multi-sport-disciplinary.
An opportunity for female coaches to work together for the benefit of their athletes and sports: Katie Arup @britishfencing and @ClaireMorrison6 @BocciaUK - thanks to @uk_sport https://t.co/Q7mdHriZNE
— Prof Sophia Jowett (@JowettSophia) June 21, 2021
Arup used lockdown and UK Sport’s brand new Female Coaches Leadership Programme to level up thanks to mentoring from ‘super coaches’, including Boccia Scotland’s Claire Morrison, who she shadowed while she was preparing her side for the Tokyo Paralympics.
Arup, one of 28 coaches from 16 sports brought together as part of a plan to more than double representation in the Olympic and Paralympic high-performance community by Paris 2024, said: “Claire really is a super coach, and it was immensely rewarding to shadow her.
“We were really lucky that the idea behind being paired with a super coach is that we would be able to watch them in action.
“Due to lockdown, we couldn’t be there physically, but Claire was great, she had her laptop with her wherever she went when she was doing Road to Tokyo training camps with her athletes.
“She would stick the laptop down and we were watching and listening in as if we were in the room and then we were allowed to ask questions to Claire and her athletes.
“She was so supportive and very inspirational. I don’t think she ever referred to any of the athletes as ‘you’ but everything she did was ‘we’ - the whole atmosphere was about her as a coach and the athlete working together as a team for the best performance.
“I could see the athletes felt empowered by receiving that support.”
Arup’s partner Davis is British Fencing’s team manager and will travel to Japan this summer along with Team GB’s sole Olympic fencer Marcus Mepstead.
But part-time graphic designer Arup hopes to inspire more girls to both take up the sport and coach it, after her mum roped her into helping run sessions at Ipswich High School.
“It is something I feel quite passionate about. I’m aware it is difficult to stand up and continue to beat the drum, but it is important because we have all experienced discrimination through our coaching in the past.
“We need to push ourselves forward and change that for the future. At the last Olympics only 11 per cent of the coaches were female.
“I adore seeing kids develop and watching them grow in confidence.
“And the more women they see in high profile roles, the better participation will be.”
UK Sport’s female coaches leadership programme is positioning 28 coaches as role models for the next generation of female coaches. It marks a turning point of truly making the coaching workforce in the Olympic and Paralympic community far more diverse and gender equal. For more information visit www.uksport.gov.uk