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Olympic dreams can wait as fencer Daniel Sigurdsson focuses on Common goals

Daniel Sigurdsson (second left) with Northern Ireland team-mates and foil competitors Matthew McKay, Keziah Beattie, Rowan Luney, Catherine McConvey and Finn McMullan
Neil Loughran

HIS coach may believe he has Olympic potential, but for now Daniel Sigurdsson’s focus is solely on making an impression at the upcoming Junior Commonwealth Games.

The 16-year-old fencer, whose family are from Iceland, will represent Northern Ireland in both junior and cadet teams at the Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Games, which take place from July 23-30.

Already this year the Belfast teenager has competed at the European and World Championships in Russia and Italy respectively, before travelling to Denmark at the end of last month to train alongside the Danish senior team.

He has picked up invaluable experience along the way, and it is something the Methody College pupil hopes will stand to him when he heads to England’s north-east later this month.

“The Danish team were all in their 20s so they are all a step ahead of me, but I learnt a lot in my time there,” said Sigurdsson.

“It’s great to train with different people and get different perspectives on the sport. I had tried other sports but I enjoyed fencing from the very first training session, even though I had to be very patient in the early days.

“It’s a different sport, not like anything I had experienced before. It’s so fast, so controlled - it’s real a game of chess, physically.”

He has worked alongside coach Johnny Davis at the Fence Like an Olympian (FLO) club since 2015, and Davis believes his student has the potential to make it to the 2024 Games in Paris and in Los Angeles four years later.

“When we started working together Daniel was a novice fencer and his development over the last three years has been very impressive,” said the two-time Olympian, who competed at the 1988 and 1992 Games.

“He is a model professional in his approach to training and his overall lifestyle is structured to support his fencing training and competition schedule. Of all the fencers I coach he is the most focused and dedicated, never missing a training session and giving 100 per cent effort in all sessions.

“He has now established himself on the international circuit having competed in Italy, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, France, Germany and Austria this season.

“In the longer term I am confident that Daniel will be in contention to qualify for the Olympic Games in 2024 or 2028.”

It would certainly be a dream to follow in his coach’s footsteps, but Sigurdsson is keeping his focus firmly on the task at hand.

He said: “Only the top athletes make it to the Olympics so of course that’s where you would want to get to one day.

“The Commonwealths will be very competitive though, very concentrated against high level fencers. Going into a competition, I always have the mindset that the most important part is the very first hit, the very first point.

“Sometimes it’s good to set longer-term goals, but what comes with that is pressure. For some people that drives them on but I intend to take it one step at a time. For me it is all about developing at this stage.”

Anybody interested in sponsoring Daniel or the team should contact siggi.fencing@gmail.com

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