WINSLEY fencer Philip Marsh believes he’s finally beginning to reap the benefits of his French foray as he aims to finish his junior career with a flourish at next month’s World Junior Championships.
Since completing his A-levels at Bath’s King Edwards School, the 19-year-old has spent the last seven months training with the Paris-based Club Levallois, one of the world’s biggest clubs, while working as an au pair for an English-speaking family.
Marsh wrote his name in the history books when he became Great Britain’s first-ever junior (U20) men’s epee champion at the 2011 World Championships and at this month’s European Junior Championships in Jerusalem, he made it to the last 32 stage before being knocked out by eventual winner and world number two Yuval Freilich.
But Marsh feels he had a lot more to show and has his fingers crossed that he can make his mark at his final World Championships.
“I’ve been out here for about seven months now and I’ve had to get used to a new style of coaching and nobody speaking English at training,” he said.
“My host family all speak English, which helps a lot, and I’m training with a lot of people who are in the French national team.
“Here, you just keep doing everything over and over again until you get it right, rather than spend a lot of time talking about it like you do in England.
“I think that I’m hopefully just beginning to feel the benefits of the training I’ve done out here.
“I did all right at the Europeans but I came up against one of the top guys in the world (Freilich), who went on to win it and had all of the crowd supporting him because he’s Israeli – I think I could have got further if I’d had a better draw.
“It’s my last season as a junior and hopefully I can do well at my last World Juniors.”
Marsh, who was one of 14 county athletes to receive a Funding Future Olympians grant from Wiltshire Council last week, wasn’t far away from clinching a place at London 2012 but says he isn’t necessarily targeting the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“I had a year out from fencing to concentrate on my studies, so I wouldn’t be too disappointed if I didn’t make the next Olympics,” he said.
“Epee fencers usually peak towards their mid-to-late 20s, so the 2020 Olympics is more realistic.”
Marsh is set to return to this country to begin studying for a degree in chemistry at Bristol University later this year.
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