Hampstead fencer Marcus Mepstead targets a place at 2016 Olympics in Rio

Marcus Mepstead of the Great Britain fencing team. Pic: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for Beazley)

Marcus Mepstead of the Great Britain fencing team. Pic: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images for Beazley) - Credit: Getty Images for Beazley

Hampstead’s Marcus Mepstead says he is thrilled to be selected for British Fencing’s World Class Programme for the next Olympic cycle.

And, having just started his 2014 international campaign, the 23-year-old is now preparing for competitions in Spain, Russia, Italy and Germany over the next two months.

Mepstead, who used to represent Salle Paul in Hendon, is now one of 13 fencers on the elite GB athlete programme, training at the national fencing centre at Lee Valley in north London.

A specialist support team of physiotherapists, nutritionists, strength and conditioning trainers and top fencing coaches work with him and his fellow fencers to aid their development and give them the best chance of winning medals at World Championship and Olympic or Paralympic level.

Mepstead has been part of the World Class Programme since 2011, and he successfully qualified again last year in a challenging two-day assessment.

“The selection process was exhausting,” he said. “Everyone was fighting their hardest to impress the coaches, and I wasn’t confident that I would be chosen. I had been training hard but you never know what’s going to happen.

“I was really happy when I found out that I had got in. Being a part of the WCP opens up a whole new range of opportunities and a more professional level of coaching and training.

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“Fencing requires natural talent and a lot of hard work. What I love about it is that it incorporates both tactics and strength. You have to be extremely focused in the duels and think on your toes.”

A new focus for the squad on strength, conditioning and nutrition has made a big difference to Marcus’s fitness.

“There has been an increase of attention on strength and conditioning, and as a result it has made me a lot fitter and stronger,” he said.

“A typical day’s training was hard before and it has only got harder. It is now a lot more professional and we are training five times a week.”

Along with several of the other individuals who have been selected for the World Class Programme, Mepstead balances training with his studies at the London School of Economics and a part-time coaching job.

“By 2016 I want to have won a European medal,” he said. “Ideally I would also like to be in the top 16 fencers in the world by then too. Like everyone else I would love to be selected for the GB team at Rio.”

Mepstead did not fence at the London 2012 Olympics, but he added: “It was very motivational. It was so great to be able to watch some of the top fencers in the world performing to the highest level.”

Mepstead and British Fencing are supported by specialist insurer Beazley and UK Sport.

To keep up to date with top-level fencing in Great Britain and to find your local fencing club, visit www.beazleybritishfencing.com.