John Whittingdale, the UK's Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, watches the action at British Fencing's Elite Training Centre ©UK Sport

British Fencing’s Elite Training Centre has been formally opened by the British Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, John Whittingdale.

The national governing body has worked with its equipment supplier Leon Paul to create dedicated and exclusive facilities for World Class Programme (WCP) fencers to train.

The move has been made possible by investment from Sport England and UK Sport, which has increased its annual WCP grant to support the additional day-to-day costs of operating out of the Centre.

The grants have allowed a dedicated facility to be developed for the WCP, which includes a medical treatment room, strength and conditioning facilities, a consultation room, a kitchen and a drying room for kit.

It provides a timely boost for British Fencing ahead of the upcoming European Championships, which are scheduled to take place in Montreux, Switzerland from June 5 to 11.

“Moving to this new dedicated centre is very exciting,” said Marcus Mepstead, British Fencing WCP athlete.

“We’ve been here for a couple of weeks already and everyone is really happy.

“I am preparing for the European Championships next week and we couldn’t ask for better facilities.

“Our thanks go to Sport England, UK Sport, Leon Paul and British Fencing - and of course the National Lottery.”

Marcus Mepstead (left) said British Fencing couldn't ask for better facilities than those provided by the Elite Training Centre
Marcus Mepstead (left) said British Fencing couldn't ask for better facilities than those provided by the Elite Training Centre ©Getty Images

After four years of operating from the English Institute of Sport facility in Lee Valley, it is claimed the move represents the next step towards British Fencing’s goal of developing world class fencers in a sustainable programme.

There is also a hot desk facility for WCP athletes alongside an office for the staff, while a new meeting room has being installed within the training venue to enable instant athlete feedback during and after training sessions and for athlete reviews.

“We are delighted that we have entered in to a partnership with Leon Paul and are already feeling the benefits of moving to a dedicated elite fencing venue,” said Alex Newton, British Fencing performance director.

“I would like to thank Sport England and UK Sport for the significant capital funding they have provided, alongside the increased revenue funding from UK Sport.

“As we prepare for the European Championships, which start next week, we could not have a better training environment in which to prepare our athletes.”

Rod Carr, chairman of UK Sport, believes the Centre will help the WCP athletes achieve their full potential on the road to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“To achieve world class performances, athletes and staff need access to truly world class facilities," he said.

“This new Elite Training Centre for British Fencing achieves exactly that.”

Whittingdale added: “It was fantastic to meet some of our top fencers and see them in action as they prepare for next month’s European Championships.

“These new facilities, funded by Sport England and UK Sport, are superb and a great boost for all at British Fencing.”

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