A TALENTED young fencer from South Tyneside is taking a stab at international competition.
Matthew Dickinson, from East Boldon, is one of four athletes who have been selected for the Great Britain team at the European Championships in Slovenia in February.
The 15-year-old, who is a pupil at Whitburn Academy, is currently ranked number one under 17 epee fencer in Britain and number 27 in the world.
He is also the British public schools’ champion, having overcome the challenge of having dyslexia and dyspraxia – which affects his co-ordination and balance.
Because of his ranking it’s also likely he will compete in next years Commonwealth championships which will be held in South Africa in July and the world championships in Uzbekistan later in the year.
Matthew said: “I’m really looking forward to next year I’m hoping to capitalise on this season and to improve.”
Matthew’s father Mark, who travels with his son to all of his competitions, said: “We’re so proud of Matthew’s achievements and how well he’s done.
“Fencing is something he enjoys. It’s never a chore for him to train. He loves it.
“Not only does it keep him fit but he’s met so many other lovely families and he’s had some fantastic experiences.
“He’s got a very busy year ahead, plus it’s his GCSE year too. He never stops.”
The sport has also helped Matthew, who began at the age of eight with lessons at Monkton Stadium in Jarrow, before progressing to Laszlo’s Fencing Club at Durham University, based at Durham Gilesgate Sports College, with his dyspraxia. Before he started training his father said his son would “trip over a flat surface” but now has good co-ordination and balance.
He said: “Fencing has helped Matthew come on leaps and bounds with his co-ordination skills.
“We would recommend it for any child who has similar difficulties.
“At one point he would trip over a flat surface, but now he’s hugely improved.”
Matthew’s former fencing coach Chris Morton, who has worked in a number of the borough’s schools, is hoping more people will now get involved with the sport.
He said: “We’re all delighted with Matthew’s success, but we want more people to get involved with fencing.”
The fencing club at Monkton Stadium runs on Saturday afternoons from 1.45pm to 3.30pm, for young people aged nine and over.
For more information call Mr Morton on 386 6634.