Laura Hunter Thomas
By Tom Phelan, BBC Blast sport reporter
Laura is a 2012 fencing hopeful from Rugby - Find out about her training and why she now lives in America...
"That was an amazing moment for me”, said Laura Hunter-Thomas as she described the moment she found out she had been hand picked to go and train in the US with fencing coach Ed Korfanty - somebody who Laura describes as “the best sabre coach in the world."
Laura is one of many Great Britons who hope to appear at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She is one of the top rated sabre fencers in the country, although she only took up the sport to escape school bullying.
Build up self-esteem
Laura, who was bullied throughout primary school, started fencing to build up her self-esteem and confidence and had never even dreamed of appearing at the Olympics when she took it up. She said: “I had absolutely no idea this hobby would bloom into what it is at this time!”
The hobby started as an extra curricular activity after school, before her coach offered to train her privately and she then joined his club, progressed and got more serious about the sport.
Laura with the team
Laura, who's from Rugby, has had to work very hard and her parents have made a lot of sacrifices to get where she is now. Living in Portland, Oregon with her mother on the west coast of the US, her father is still living in the UK, which has obviously been tough for the family.
She said: “I required a lot of commitment from my parents, which I could never have succeeded without. I owe them a lot.”
When Laura first met Korfanty, her goal was to make the 2009 British Cadet World Championship team - 2012 was a distant dream. Laura met her 2009 goal and now has her eyes on a podium place in London.
She said: “I’m sure my goal will change slightly, from getting onto the Olympic team, to winning gold."
Laura believes the level of coaching and competition is not good enough in the UK and has had her eyes opened since she moved to Portland. Frequently fencing with world class athletes, such as double Olympic champion and team mate Mariel Zagunis, she believes UK coaches are too over cautious about entering fencers into tough competitions.
"The fencing ‘establishment’ do not give any credit to exposing fencers to high-level competition and will not send them, with reasons such as it’s emotionally scarring or "you’re not ready or good enough."
Even though she is highly rated both sides of the Atlantic, Laura added: “The biggest obstacle I face with British Fencing is persuading my federation to let me enter competitions such as senior world cups."
last updated: 07/09/2009 at 15:43
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