Willesden star hoping to Max out on European stage

Willesden fencing star Max Woollard is targeting European glory after being selected to compete for Great Britain in the under-17 foil squad for the 2011-12 season.

Sixteen-year-old Woollard is currently ranked third in the GB rankings, and earned his call-up after impressive performances in qualifying events in London, Manchester and Sheffield.

His first international competition is in Halle, Germany, on November 26 and 27, before he travels to France in December and Slovakia in January.

Then come the European Championships in Croatia, for which British Fencing will select the top four youngsters in the country.

“I’m aiming to at least make the last 16 in Germany, and hopefully even win it,” said Woollard. “It’s a pretty big event for me, so the training gets more intense from now on, mainly working on strength and conditioning.

“Two-day competitions are intense; the first day is the ranking part and they chuck a load of competitors out at the end of it, and then on the second day the elimination rounds start.

“I’m doing just about as well as I could be at the moment so I’m happy with my progress.”

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Woollard, who trains at the elite fencing club Salle Paul in Camden and attends William Ellis School in Gospel Oak, took up the sport after being inspired by films as a child.

He currently juggles his blossoming fencing career with his studies, having just completed his GCSEs, he is about to undertake AS Levels in physics, chemistry, maths and geography.

But uppermost in his mind is his determination to make the squad for the European Championships in February, and the World Championships in Moscow the following month.

“I’ve never been to a competition that size before, but I don’t see why I can’t do well there,” added Woollard. “I don’t see too many rivals and I’m pretty determined.”

Max will make the step up to under-20 level next year.