Fencer Simon closing in on Paralympic dream

WITH 150 days to go until the Olympics, Kimberley hopeful Simon Wilson is on tenterhooks waiting to hear if he has been selected.

The wheelchair fencer – who is Britain’s number one – has been training hard for five years and finds out on April 10 if he has qualified for the Paralympics.

“The biggest thing is still not knowing and feeling that uncertainty,” he said.

“I’ve got to just carry on training and doing everything I can. I am feeling hopeful though. I’ve spent five years training for it so I’m not going to give up now.

“It would be a dream to represent my country and I just have to take things month-by-month and focus on the goal of being selected.”

Simon – who is ranked 20th in the world – went to a final qualifying event in Germany back in January where he fought against the best wheelchair fencers in the world.

“It was obviously the biggest event so far because everyone was scrabbling for the last few points,” he said.

“They’re not easy competitions but I’m happy with how it went,” he said.

Simon, who had his left leg amputated because of a bone disease as a youngster, came 27th out of 50 in the first competition, and 30th out of 49 contestants in the second.

The 53-year-old fights against people 20 to 30 years his junior, and in Germany other contestants his age were knocked out in the beginning stages.

Simon, of Ascot Avenue, had no idea how good he would be at fencing when he first picked up a sword back in 2006. Within a year, he had made the GB squad.

“I just wanted to be Robin Hood!” he joked.

“I took part in a small competition and got a bronze and it’s then that I thought ‘I might be quite good at this’.”

Simon switched over to wheelchair fencing a year later after coaches told him he had great hand speed but his foot co-ordination with a prosthetic leg was letting him down.

Nottinghamshire County Council gave the Paralympic hopeful a grant of £2,000 to help subsidise training expenses and also the cost towards paying for international standard swords.

Cllr John Cottee said: “It is an important time for our sporting hopefuls like Simon and we wish everyone well in their quest for success in Olympic and Paralympic year.”

The council has this week launched a new sports zone area on its website.

‘Sport for All’ aims to signpost web visitors to a range of cultural and sporting highlights coming up in Nottinghamshire.

n Visit www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/sportforall.