PWS fencing champion is Young Sportswoman of the Year finalist

davRachael Lever, a pupil at Prince William School is a world-class fencer, ranked number one for her age group in the country.

Rachael has accomplished much in her short career: she is the British Cadet U17 champion; in May, she won the British U16 hampionships; in July, she was part of Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games, where they won the team event; she also came 7th in the U20s category; two years ago, Rachael was 6th in Poland at the U15s international and 6th in talent at the U14 international; in September in Geneva, she came 17th out of 91 and was number one seed after both rounds of the pools.

On top of this, in November, she was a finalist in the Northamptonshire County Sports Awards for the award of Young Sportswoman of the year.

Rachael is currently GB number 1 in the U17 rankings, and 4th for U20s. She came 3rd in the British junior U20s the day after she won the British U17s.

If this sounds busy, it is. “I am always fencing, with competitions planned until Christmas,” she said.

The fencing season starts in September with the British Cadet U17 championships, which Rachael won this September. She trains four times a week, including a fitness session on Wednesdays. Rachael also attends a British fencing two-day talent-training session in London every three months.

The young athlete enjoys the hours she spends fencing. “I do enjoy training and I really enjoy helping the younger ones improve too, that’s really rewarding.”

Rachael was drawn to fencing because of her brother’s interest in the sport, and her own natural talent was noted early on. One might assume that fencing would be a dangerous sport, considering it involves swords, but Rachael confirms that she very occasionally acquires bruises, but nothing substantial enough to put her off.

Her coach, Chris Howser, is an ex-British champion who has won veteran Commonwealth medals and the Commonwealth championships. Chris has helped Rachael learn to coach herself, rather than needing him with her at all competitions, and has taught her to learn from her mistakes without his input. However, he will be accompanying her this season to ensure that she gets the results she wants.

Rachael received grants last year from Persimmon Homes, however she does not have any ongoing sponsorship or funding from council, so she is self-funding. She explained that national funding relies on winning medals at the Olympics, however “all the money for British fencing has been withdrawn because the man competing in Rio came fourth, despite losing to a man doping. They are reviewing how they do the funding but it has had a massive impact on how we are having to budget for everything.”

Her next big competitions are in France, Germany and Denmark. “The main ones are the internationals. It’s really cool to be able to travel so much.”

Through all this travelling, Rachael has been able to make friends all over this country and from other countries as well. It might seem difficult to befriend a person you are competitive against, but Rachael explained, “it is strange, because you are competitors on-piste, but off-piste you put your differences aside.”

Rachael said her parents have been fundamental to her success. Her mother accompanies her all round Europe and takes her to training.

“If I’m feeling a bit down she’ll encourage me to go to training; she pushes me to be better.” Rachael acknowledges, “If she wasn’t there, my life would be so much harder”.

Rachael’s ultimate goal is the Olympics. “Everybody wants to go to the Olympics but I need to be surrounded by the right sponsors and the right training environment in order to succeed.” She explained that it is seriously hard to qualify, but feels confident it is an achievable goal.

Hannah Wakeford
December 2018