En garde, ready, fence - words Rosie is glad to hear

For many young athletes, the ongoing Covid pandemic has altered their normality with training and competitions postponed, writes Harriet Whitaker.

Saturday, 19th June 2021, 10:00 am
Rosie Whitaker is glad to be fencing again

For many young athletes, the ongoing Covid pandemic has altered their normality with training and competitions postponed.

Rosie Whitaker, a young fencer from Chichester, has spent the past year training at home after sessions were forced to stop during lockdown.

Rosie’s experience mirrors that of many young sportspeople around the country who have had to abruptly adapt to training at home.

Before the pandemic, Rosie, who has regularly represents England and GB in international competitions, was attending up to five training sessions a week. A typical training session at Chichester Fencing Club involves fitness, footwork, and sparring.

An aspect Rosie has particularly missed during lockdown was one-to-one training sessions with her coach Sharon Blackman.

Despite the obvious setbacks lockdown brought about, including gym and sport centre closures, Rosie has been able to keep up her fitness and strength by going on outdoor runs, completing footwork tasks and working out in the living room.

British Fencing have been running their athlete development programme over Zoom instead of in person, which Rosie has found engaging and useful. Rosie said: “My family have been a great help, especially when they would each take turns to wear my kit to assist in my target practice, not complaining too much in the process!”

As training return to some sort of normality, Rosie said: “It is so important to stay motivated especially during lockdown. I am passionate about fencing so sessions starting again is great. I am very much looking forward to returning to training and competitions.”

Sharon Blackman, head coach of Chichester Fencing Club, said: “Covid has been terribly hard on top sportspeople like Rosie, but fortunately she has far more drive and self-motivation than the average person. I’m very proud of how hard she has continued to work and I’m sure it will be reflected in her results when competitions return.”

If you’d like to give it a go as sport returns to normal, email Sharon Blackman at