Lisburn’s Philip Slater has already won the 2015 Senior Irish National Fencing title this year although he has eyes on further Gold at the forthcoming Sainsbury’s 2015 School Games in Manchester.
The 18-year-old will be representing Northern Ireland and this time hopes to do better than his last three Games where he has won a total of two team bronze medals.
The Sainsbury’s 2015 School Games is a multi-sport event for the UK’s elite young athletes of school age that will take place from September 3-6.
His first appearance took place three years ago in the same London 2012 venue where Olympians competed and triumphed.
And while exam responsibilities have disrupted the Lisburn Gladiators Fencing Club athlete’s competition schedule this season, he believes he is in as good a shape as ever.
The future Queen’s University Belfast fencer won the Nationals in March and represented Northern Ireland at last year’s fencing Commonwealth Games in Scotland – although he is not resting on his laurels with the challenge of the School Games next.
“I’m very proud that I have been selected to represent my country but I’m quite sad as this will be my last Games as a participant,” he said.
“As this is my last year, I would really like to go out with a bang so I would love to get an individual and team medal. It would be brilliant if that was a different colour than my two bronzes.
“It’s great to be Team NI rather than just competing as an individual. Living in the athletes’ village is brilliant as you get to meet athletes from different sports and countries.
“It is different when you know you are participating as a representative of your country and not just as an individual in a competition.
“My goal is definitely to one day hear my national anthem with myself stood on the top step of the podium.”
Slater is no stranger to setbacks as he suffered from an Achilles heel injury last season which he overcame through hard work and patience plus the support of a talented doctor and physio.
His constant source of inspiration is his mother Alison who was his first coach and was the one that got him interested in the sport – his younger sister Charlotte, 14, will also fence for Northern Ireland in the Games.
The 18-year-old also used to be active in rowing and got a chance to train with Olympic silver medallist Richard Chambers.
“My mum is a big inspiration for me, she has given up so much and offers so much support. I want to do her proud and I also want to win.”
The Sainsbury’s 2015 School Games, which is supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, takes place in Manchester from 3-6 September 2015. Visit www.2015schoolgames.com for more information.