Penman believes dealing with Covid made him a better fencer

Callum Penman feels that navigating the challenges of lockdown has made him a better fencer.
Callum Penman feels that navigating the challenges of lockdown has made him a better fencer.

By Jack Lacey-Hatton

Callum Penman feels that navigating the challenges of lockdown has made him a better fencer.

The Edinburgh foilist, 16, admitted to struggling to find the motivation when the Covid-19 pandemic first struck but with the help and support of his coaches and British Fencing, has emerged out of the other side.

After having to go months without competition, the young Scot is now looking like one of the most talented cadet fencers in the country, a far cry from when he wasn’t able to pick up a sword in anger.

Penman said: “When you’re not allowed to spar, it makes things very difficult.

“That was a huge aspect of the training. Obviously, I think Covid did impact on my development for sure.

“But British Fencing and the coaches did so much to keep me training during that period.

“We would work on footwork, fitness and strength and conditioning. It made you feel as if you were still working towards something.

“It was all stuff you could do at home, so even though I was stuck in my room for a lot of lockdown I could carry on training.

“I’m so glad I’ve stuck with it because I think I’m a better fencer for going through that period.”

Penman is now one of Britain’s rising talents in the men’s foil event after recently finishing second at the British Cadet Championships in Nottingham.

And he believes the switch to training at the Salle Holyrood club has made a huge difference.

He added: “The quality of the facilities at Holyrood has really helped me step up my fencing.

“It means when I come to events like the National Championships, I feel that I can compete with anyone.”

Penman’s development is 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 piste, going forward.

Dusty Miller, head of people and culture at the national governing body, said: “The culture at British Fencing is moving to a ‘fencer-centred’ approach.”

“What we are trying to do is put the development of the fencer at the very centre.

“To be fencer-centred is about putting the fencer’s performance, and the development of that individual, right at the heart of performance.

“The commitment is our binding contract with each other, between the community, parents and us as a national governing body to support the development and the growth of their children, hopefully into high performance adults.”

British Fencing supports fencing and para fencing across the UK, from grassroots initiatives and school-age experiences, through to clubs and competitions. The Athlete Development Programme supports fencers as they develop along the GBR pathway and has a three-point focus: Fencer-Centred, Development-Driven and Competition-Supported, placing the fencer at the heart of the competitive fencing map. Find out more at britishfencing.com