St Albans fencing star looking forward to ‘added responsibility’ of representing England

Alexander Culkin has been selected for England's U13 foil fencing team for 2017

Alexander Culkin has been selected for England's U13 foil fencing team for 2017 - Credit: Archant

An up and coming fencer from St Albans is targeting European glory after being selected to compete for England in the U13 foil team in 2017.

Twelve-year-old Alexander Culkin, who is currently ranked in the top five in England, earned his call-up after a series of impressive performances in qualifying events in London, Newcastle and Sheffield.

His first international competition will be in Wroclaw, Poland, on March 25 and 26 before he travels to Paris in June.

In between comes the British Youth Championships in Sheffield, at the end of April.

“I have to aim for a place in the last 32 in Poland, even though there will be over 200 fencers in my age group,” said Culkin.

“With the added responsibility of wearing the England Stripes it’s a big event for me. So from now on my training gets more intense, starting with strength and conditioning.”

Alex, who trains at the Salle Paul club in Hendon and attends Verulam Boys School in St Albans, took up the sport after a taster club while at Fleetville Junior School sparked his interest.

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Alex’s Mum, Harriet is overwhelmed by his progress.

“The way that he has grown into this sport is astonishing, considering no one in our family has ever picked up a sword in anger,” she said.

“Alex won the County U12 Championships in April and now he’s in the U13 England squad and ranked in the top 30 at U15. Poland is an enormous step but given all the support he’s had Alex will just take it in his stride.”

Culkin is quick to acknowledge the help he’s had over the past year.

He said: “I received a grant from the St Albans-based 948 Sports Foundation in April; that enabled me to attend a summer training camp where I was able to develop my technique against fencers from all over the world.

“I’m also very lucky to have Anthony Conyard as my coach and he is British Fencing’s development coach of the year.

“Now I’m just looking forward to keep working hard in 2017 as my sister, Nathalie is improving all the time and snapping at my heels.”