Schoolboy James Russell has earned his England fencing colours.
The 14-year-old Charterhouse School pupil, who lives in Petworth and is a keen all-round sportsman and academic, has been honoured by his country following an impressive few years in the sport.
Russell, who specialises in the epee discipline, began fencing aged ten after being inspired by his older sister – and he enjoyed his most successful year to date in 2013.
In what proved a stellar year, he won championship trophies at national school level, retained his regional championship and competed in an adult tournament for the first time.
But his biggest achivement yet came last month as he was handed his England colours by British Fencing’s Maggie Maynard at the GB National Cadet Under-17 championships after being invited to fight for his country in Poland.
Competing in the 2013 Public Schools Fencing Championships, Russell secured his first major national title after beating his Eton-educated opponent in the final. This was a notable achievement from the field of around 1,600, who had entered the highly-respected youth tournament.
He has recently been competing in big senior competitions like the Aldershot Open, where he came a very creditable 36th out of 68 competitors. Aside from all the competitions, Russell and his father both attend Worthing Fencing Club for social fencing on a Sunday morning.
It’s a big couple of years in the offing for Russell, with his targets already set in his mind. He hopes to win Under-16 Public Schools Junior Cup later this year and is aiming for a strong showing when he fences for England at the end of this month.
His father said: “What James really wants is the invitation to fence for Great Britain at cadet, junior and senior - he wants it now and he’s going all out for it.”