Up-and-coming fencer Sam Blair is working towards a stellar 2020 after a fantastic 12 months of achievement on the international stage.
As he continues his winter fitness training at Louth’s Meridian Leisure Centre, using the gym for endurance and muscle strength, the 17-year-old wants to cement his position as one of the leading national fencers in his age group.
He finished 2019 as the ninth-ranked ninth junior (under 20) fencer in Great Britain, after a brilliant year which saw him win Team GB Gold at the Five Nations Championships in Dublin.
The Louth sportsman also represented Britain at London’s Eden Cup where he finished as the second highest-ranked national fencer, while other national call-ups have seen him compete in Rome, Vienna, Paris, Budapest and Germany.
As he looks for further fencing success, the former Cordeaux (now Louth Academy) student has also embarked on a year’s training apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer at CATCH, in Stallingborough.
The course brings a guaranteed traineeship at Phillips 66, and, while it is hard work, Blair is determined to progress on both a sporting and industrial front.
“I am still training twice a week and of course keeping the gym usage going really helps,” he said.
“It is all about making sure that I’m building up the right kind of muscle, and making sure my balance remains good.
Blair used the Meridian to help his recovery following a ligament injury just over a year ago.
A long-term member of Louth Fencing Club, where head coach and coach Jim and Kate Harris have provided great support and help, he took up the sport as a nine-year-old after a club open day at Meridian, which is managed by the Magna Vitae Trust for Leisure and Culture.
Local, regional and national success has followed, thanks to plenty of hard work and determination to keep achieving.
“I would always advise young people to get involved in something they enjoy and don’t let anyone stop them,” added Blair.
“Yes, it takes a lot of effort, but I have enjoyed the whole sporting experience and the social side that comes with it.
“Doing a sport like this gives you a real sense of community – I have grown up with the people I train with and have made some lifelong friends.”
Magna Vitae chief executive, Mark Humphreys said: “It is these success stories that make us realise the important part that our leisure centres and fitness suites play in the lives of so many people.
“From those, like Sam, who wish to compete at an international level, to others who may just want to be a little healthier and enjoy meeting new people and getting more active, more often.”