Sameer Sunder-Rajan is taking inspiration from one of Britain’s sporting greats to fuel his fencing fire.
One of the country’s brightest epee talents, the 15-year-old looks towards Frank Lampard as his sporting hero after an encounter with the Chelsea legend and current Everton manager several years ago.
And the two-time British youth champion still refers to it as the moment that gave him the drive to reach the heights of elite sport.
“My sporting hero was always Frank Lampard,” he said. “His daughters went to my school, so I used to see him a lot and actually got to meet him in person.
“Even though he is from another sport just talking to someone who had competed at the highest level, was an experience I will never forget.
“That was a huge moment in my life, I’m a Chelsea fan so it was a really inspirational talk for me.”
Silver 🥈 for Sameer Sunder-Rajan at the Cadet Commonwealth Fencing Championships 2022 #Epee
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Arian 🥈 i Sameer Sunder-Rajan yn Gemau'r Gymanwlad Cadet Cleddyfa 2022 #CleddyfBlaenbwl pic.twitter.com/Wj2OK7T2ZX
— Welsh Fencing 🤺 Cleddyfa Cymru (@Welsh_Fencing) August 17, 2022
Sunder-Rajan fences for Wales at Commonwealth level through his dad’s roots in Cardiff and became the Cadet Welsh champion earlier this year.
He added: “The Welsh team always make lots of noise and bring the support to competitions so I’ve really enjoyed it.
What is even more remarkable is that Sunder-Rajan only turned to fencing because of a chance encounter with a fellow pupil.
“When I was nine I had to quit football because it didn’t work with school hours,” he explained. “I was a bit disappointed and wondering which sport I could get involved with.
“Randomly I just saw a guy on a bus one day holding a sword and I was instantly really intrigued. It turned out the same guy went to my school and was in the fencing club, it all went from there really.
“As a kid I think swords are naturally interesting - they were for me anyway!”
Sunder-Rajan’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.
— British Fencing (@britishfencing) November 1, 2022
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