Wheelchair fencing star Abigail Marshall hopes to battle her way to international glory after soaring to elite level status on the Great Britain squad.
Marshall is in her final week of A-Levels at Magdalen College School in Brackley, with hopes to go to Loughborough University in September to study Physics.
She has high hopes for the university experience and believes the move will be integral to her burgeoning sporting development. Marshall, 18, said: “Firstly, with the fencing, it’s a very sporty university and I’ve had a look on what they do with the fencing and they train almost every day of the week, which I’m really looking forward to.
“There’s not really that many wheelchair fencing competitions in the UK. I’m not sure if there’s any at all besides nationals. “I was supposed to go to Thailand for the first international competition, but it was cancelled due to Covid.
“I was quite disappointed with that, but I’m hoping there will be more in the future.
“I try not to put too much pressure on myself or think about the future too much. I really want to compete internationally and get as far as I can.
“I haven’t thought too much about the Paralympics, but obviously it would be amazing to go. It would be very cool.”
Marshall’s fencing career is financially supported by a partnership between Entain – owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – and SportsAid, set up in 2019 and part of the company’s innovative Pitching In initiative.
And the sustained assistance helps her access funding for training, travel, equipment and mentoring as she bids to reach the summit.
Marshall also has the support of her coach, Baldip Sahota, who was one of the first Indian fencers to compete with the Great Britain Under-20 squad at home and as an international.
Under his guidance, Marshall managed two bronze medals at the British Fencing Nationals last year in the foil and epee events – only three years after becoming disabled due to her leg and hip deformities – and in January this year, was promoted to the elite level of the Great Britain wheelchair fencing team.
Marshall does not let her disability define her and takes inspiration from racing driver Billy Monger – who had to have the lower parts of his legs amputated after a life-threatening collision.
“Billy Monger is very inspirational to me,” she added. “I think it’s the way that after he lost his legs, he just got on with it and decided he wanted to keep racing despite everything.
“He just did it without any complaints and didn’t let it affect him too much. He’s such a positive person and I take inspiration from that and try and keep positive too.
“Fencing has been really great to keep me active and positive. It can be hard sometimes, but I just really enjoy fencing and it’s something I’m good at.”