Despite her youth, year 13 pupil Olivia O'Connell (pictured left) has already had a fantastic fencing career, ending last season ranked 12th in the GB Cadets (U17). For those outside the fencing world, the top 15 usually get to compete with the GB squad overseas. In other words: this is a pretty big deal.
In what has been a far from usual season since then, Olivia reflected on what she's been up to and how coronavirus has affected training in even this most covered and distanced sport.
"When the prospect of coronavirus in the UK first arose, I suspected it would have little effect on my life. I never imagined schools closing, let alone a lockdown, and the sport I compete in, fencing, seemed an ideal activity given the circumstances; you wear a mask and glove at all times, and if someone comes within two metres of you, you hit them! Unfortunately, the restrictions have affected it far more than I could have expected. Training has only just restarted, having ended in March and it is unlikely that domestic competitions will take place before Easter, let alone the international circuit reopening. In addition, under British fencing restrictions, we have to wear a face mask at all times, as well as a fencing mask, making it extremely difficult both to see and to breathe. The new rule of six also means you have to spar in small groups at club sessions, greatly limiting the opportunities to fence a variety of different people. Now with the possibility of a second lockdown, I am grateful to even be training at all and finally seeing my friends and coaches again."