Strong mentality key to success for British fencer Blackledge

Blackledge has already represented her country at cadet European events after first showing her potential with a national junior title back in 2016 (Sophie DeVooght)

By Jack Lacey-Hatton

Sabre star Eleanor Blackledge says mental resilience will be the key in fulfilling her fencing potential.

The Glossop ace recently finished sixth at the British Cadet Championships and is now targeting selection at world and European level for Great Britain.

And although the young Blackledge is putting no limit on what she can achieve on the piste, she is well aware that improvements to the mental side of her game will be the difference as she seeks to make the step up to senior competition in the coming years.

“It takes a lot of mental resilience to be a good fencer, for me that has been the biggest challenge,” she explained. “A fight can be won or lost up in your head.

“A lot of people I have fence have great technique but I think the difference is their mindset on the piste.

“Right now I’m just enjoying the sport for what it is, but I know to take that next step I’ll have to work in my mindset.

“Obviously long-term selection either happens or it doesn’t happen, but in the back of my mind I’d love to get to a senior European or World Championship stage.”

Blackledge has already represented her country at cadet European events after first showing her potential with a national junior title back in 2016.

She added: “When I was little I just fenced for fun, but at the Under-10 British Championships, one of my first biggest competitions, I managed to win it. At that point I realised I might be quite good at this.

“From when I was taken along to my first training session I had a love for it, but when you have success at a national it all becomes a bit more serious.”

Blackledge’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