By Jack Lacey-Hatton
Scottish fencing prodigy Thomas Walton is hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps as he embarks in his own journey in the sport.
The Edinburgh ace, 17, is one of the brightest foil prospects in British Fencing’s cadet age range and became national champion at Under-17 level last year.
His dad Sean was a top-class fencer in both the foil and epee events and Walton junior says that their close bond ensures he has a much-needed sounding board whenever he steps off the piste.
“The day I was born pretty much I was given a sword in my hand,” joked Walton. “My dad loved fencing so it came naturally, but it has just been great to have such a family-oriented sport.”
“He’s more than a coach. Because we have a close father-son relationship, he can just tell me anything, if I’m having a poor day or a good day, he’ll tell me.
“It’s the kind of feedback I need. He just tells me how it is and I love him for it.”
“If something isn’t quite right technically he can tell me, but he certainly helps me a lot with the mental side as well.”
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.
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“I think my mum has insisted we don’t talk about fencing at the dinner table,” he added. “I won’t tell my dad what an inspiration he is or he’ll get too smug! But he is definitely my sporting hero.”
Walton’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