Multi-tasking teenage fencer from KEHS wins call-up for Junior Commonwealth Games
Teenage fencing international Shreya Anil, 17, from Harborne is celebrating her first call-up for this week’s Junior Commonwealth Games in Cape Town – and she credits her teachers for helping her juggle her sport and school work. Shreya, a Lower Sixth former at King Edward VI High School for Girls, fences sabre, an athletic, swashbuckling discipline that demands lightning reflexes and excellent technique. She took up the sport aged 11 by chance when she went along to an after school club but showed so much natural talent that just two years later she was picked to represent Britain in her first international event at Under 17 (Cadet) level. Since then she has competed all over Europe including in France, Germany and Hungary and aged only 15, qualified for the European Cadet Championships in Croatia. The same year, as one of the top young fencers in Europe, she was selected for the prestigious New Talent Programme run by British Fencing. Representing KEHS, she took the sabre gold medal at the Public Schools Championships at Crystal Palace last year, just weeks before achieving an impressive haul of GCSEs, all at A* and A grades.
“It’s brilliant to be picked for the Commonwealth Games at my age group;” Shreya smiled, “wonderful experience and very motivating. It’s also a tribute to how much help King Edward’s has given me in combining a pretty demanding training schedule with my academic work. I train at Camden Fencing Club in London two nights a week with my coach Ian Williams who’s a former British sabre champion and fenced at the Barcelona Olympics. I finish school about 4 and my mum drives me to Camden. I train from 6.30 for over two hours then get home quite late. I also do two strength and conditioning sessions in the gym each week and along with my teammates I have mental preparation with sports psychologists to help us keep calm and focussed when we’re under pressure in competitions.”
I miss a lot of school because of my fencing but all the teachers, specially our principal Mrs Clark and my form teacher Miss Oldfield have been really understanding and helpful. They all follow my progress and ask how I get on and my friends are very supportive too. They take notes and collect sheets for me to help me make up the work I’ve missed. I also enjoy swimming and helping to organise activities for old people with the school – and somehow I manage to fit it all in.”
“We’re enormously proud of Shreya,” said KEHS principal Ann Clark. “She’s really dedicated to her fencing but she also organises her time really well so that she manages to juggle a demanding, high level sport with a full school life. She thoroughly deserves her success.”
Shreya’s long-term goal is to fence at the Olympics in 2020 and 2024 – and she plans to apply to university in the London area so that she can continue her training at the Camden club.
“For now, I’m waiting nervously for my AS level results in August,” she said. “I took a mixed bag of Maths, Economics, Latin and History – so I’m keeping my fingers tightly crossed for some good grades – along with a good showing at the Junior Commonwealth Games. That would make all the hard work and sacrifices worthwhile.”