Olympic hopeful Amber Moss is looking to put two years of injury frustration behind her when she returns to the international arena later this month.
The 18-year-old Louth fencer is set to join the British Under 21s foil team for the next World Cup event in Romania on September 26 and 27.
She is also aiming to qualify for World Cup series events in France, Croatia and Slovakia after a ‘phantom’ injury forced her out of international action.
It took four months to diagnose psoas dysfunction, a complex condition affecting an abdominal muscle. While there is no actual damage, the pain is caused by muscle memory.
It first struck during an under 17s international in France, and ruled her out of the European and World championships last year as well as the Junior Commonwealth Games.
“It was difficult to diagnose because there is nothing physically wrong with the muscle,” she said.
“When they did MRI scans and X-rays, the muscle was perfect.
“I was able to train and could still enter competitions because the muscle wasn’t damaged, but it caused me a lot of pain so I couldn’t push it too far.
“I was gutted I couldn’t go to the European, worlds and Commonwealths after I had done all the hard work and qualified. But it makes you want it all the more.”
While Amber is keen to hit the comeback trail, she is also keeping her ambitions realistic. A top 32 or 64 position would suffice, for now at least.
She added: “It’s my first international back so I’m still a bit wary, but the experience will be great.
“There will be people there who have won European and world championships at their age group.”
She first got into the sport as a 10-year-old at Louth Fencing Club, having caught the bug, indirectly, from her father and siblings.
“My dad used to fence so my brothers and sisters were all made to do it. I used to watch my brother in competitions and once I broke my arm while trying to grab a balloon.
“Another time I fell back off my chair and knocked myself out so my parents thought it would be safer if I was actually competing.
“I came second at my first competition and was hooked.”
Amber, who is set to embark on a degree course in sport and exercise science at Lincoln University, has come a long way from a fidgety spectator.
She made her international debut for England aged 13 before graduating up to the British Under 17s squad, and now trains once a week in Nottingham and twice monthly in London.
National coaches have high hopes for the former Monks’ Dyke pupil and invited her to join the World Class Talent Programme, set up to develop athletes for the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games.
But elite ambitions don’t come cheap and she is grateful to sponsors Clark Hearsey and Nottingham Building Society for their financial backing.
Her old schoolmates also helped out, holding a fundraising event to pay for new kit, and Amber hopes to repay them all in the best possible way.
“Without the sponsors it wouldn’t be possible for me to go to these international competitions or even down to London.” she said.
“We are just a normal family, and at the start it was a case of ‘I’ve qualified, but can we afford to go’.
“I think I can get to the Olymnpics one day. My coaches said I haven’t reached my peak yet, and I know I have a lot more to give,
“I just have to keep on training and working hard.”