Meet Hannah O’Reilly, fencer

PUBLISHED: 08:06 25 April 2015 | UPDATED: 08:06 25 April 2015

Hannah O'Reilly

Hannah O'Reilly

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

The 13-year-old from Kent College Pembury on being selected for England Fencing and the contrasts between Kent and Australia

Tell us a bit about you

I am Hannah O’Reilly, I’m 13 years old. Three years ago we returned to England after spending six years in Melbourne. I have a younger sister, an extra-large black and white cat nicknamed King Henry VII, a Tibetan terrier mix dog who sings – and we all live on an asparagus farm in Biddenden.

What are you doing now?

I am in Year 9 at Kent College Pembury, my new school which I’m enjoying very much. I have made my GCSE choices for next year and will be taking the three sciences - Physics, Chemistry and Biology, History, Classics, French and Film Studies.

What about the future for you?

I’m not sure where this might lead to when I’m grown up as that seems so far away, but I do dream about being involved in something to do with the film industry. My favourite entertainment is films and superheroes and cartoons are at the top of the list.

I would also like to be involved with nature or marine conservation, which might also be a career path. I play the viola in the school strings orchestra which is fun.

Tell us about your fencing

I started fencing when we came back to England as I’d seen a demonstration at a Holiday Festival in Australia. My first competition was MX Leon Paul Junior in 2012 and I am totally hooked on the sport.

I spend a good deal of my week training and taking part in Junior Leon Paul and Cadet competitions all over the UK. These then culminate in the British Youth Championships held in Sheffield each May. The England Youth Champs are also good medals to earn and this takes place in June.

I am the current cup holder of the Kent County Amateur Fencing U16 Senior Schools Sabre and am very proud of this 
as I competed against others who are three years older. In December I fenced in the Cadet Winton for the South East Regional Team and, along with fellow Kent College student Isabel Turnbull, we won the sabre event for the second year.

I fence at Kent College as part of the school’s Extra Curricular Activities Programme on a Tuesday lunchtime. 
We have a professional coach who owns a fencing club so there is the option to further your training if you enjoy it.

The sport is a great way to meet new friends and the atmosphere is generally a happy one among fencers, who not only share tips on how to do better and improve to win, but also who has the best and the most original joke arsenal!

This year I am going to the Wratislavia Challenge in Poland as part of the GB under-15 team. There are usually more than 500 competitors in the sabre fencing and those taking part are from all over the world, from the USA to Russia, and the competition is serious but exciting.

Who is your role model?

My sports role model is the Russian fencer Sofia Velikaia, an Olympian and four-time world champion team fencer. A fantastic sportswoman, she is always working very hard to succeed. My goal is to represent Great Britain in an Olympic Games.

What’s best about Kent?

I have a wonderful view of Sissinghurst Castle from my bedroom window and some of my favourite things about living in Kent are the traditional Wealden houses, oasts and the castles and their grounds where I go for long dog walking adventures.

I do enjoy the beaches and fish and chip shops in almost every town on the coast. Kent is very green, full of fruit trees and so completely different to Australia, which is mostly red sand and incredibly hot.

Your favourite book?

My current favourite book series is the Sculduggery Pleasant stories by Derek Landy. The humour and way in which troubles are sorted out is great. n

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