MILTON Keynes fencer Gabby Down was only eight years old when it was announced London would host the 2012 Paralympics – but having been selected to take part at this weekend’s World Championships, she believes she can go for gold in the capital next year.
The 13-year-old played a watching brief at this summer’s European Championships in Sheffield, but after her string of impressive results since, she has been picked in the nine-strong wheelchair fencing squad for the World Championships.
Due to her tender years, Down is the first to admit that her trip to Catania, Italy, will see her entered uncharted territory, and she’s also conceded that she’s expecting more than a few nerves in Sicily.
But she’s determined to show that age is no barrier when she crosses swords with the world’s finest.
“This is my first World Championships so I can’t wait to go there and see what it is all about,” said Down, who attends Oakgrove School.
“It’s my first one so I don’t know what I’m expecting in terms of results but it’s more about gaining some experience ahead of London 2012 next year.
“I’m obviously hoping to do well but since it’s my first one it’s more about learning as much as I can and hopefully get as much knowledge as I can to help me out at London 2012.
“I will be going up against people I have never fought before and against people who have been fencing for years so it will be tough, but all good ahead of next year.”
And while Down confesses to a few nerves ahead of her Worlds bow, she’s convinced it will be valuable with London 2012 rapidly approaching on the horizon.
“I think I will be really nervous because I’m nervous already and part of me just wants to get my first fight out of the way because after that it should be easier I hope,” she added.
“But it’s going to be a really great experience and will hopefully help me conquer my nerves ahead of more big competitions and getting use to the atmosphere of these competitions.
“I would love to go to London but we will just see how it goes. These World Championships are qualification for it so I want to do well for that reason.
“I haven’t done many competitions that count towards London 2012 qualification but we will just have to see what happens. I’m going to go out to Italy to show what I can do.”
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