Ranked as world number one in wheelchair fencing, Piers Gilliver from Gloucestershire has now set his sights on scoring gold in the Paralympic games to be held in Rio de Janeiro this year.
Piers, aged 21, can be regularly found training for his sport through the Cotswold’s Fencing Club in Churchdown and at the Innsworth Community Hall. After taking up fencing as a hobby in 2010, his love of the sport was truly sparked off as a result of watching the fencing at the 2012 London Olympics, and he had since dreamed of going up against the top-ranked fencers he saw at the games.
In the four years since the London Olympics, Piers trained long and hard to learn the sport inside out, and strived to reach his goal of becoming the best. He has certainly come along way from simply fantacising about taking part in the Olympics to actually go ahead to target a gold medal at the next Olympic games.
In an interview with local press, Piers said, “It is just bizarre to think that I am now world number one.”
However, his dreams of attending the games in Rio all hang on his place being confirmed. The Olympic qualification period ends in May, but as Piers is ranked as world number one in the sport, it is thought to be more than likely he will win his place and be attending.
Piers, from Drybrook, has been focused on his training at the Innsworth Community Hall for the next Olympics for the last five months. He told the press: “Gloucester has been brilliant for me; it has really helped my development as a fencer. I think it really important to keep these local connections.”
Despite being wheelchair bound since the age of 11 due to a neuromuscular disorder, Piers has managed to overcome all challenges thrown at him, and has progressed from a novice fencer to world number one in just six short years.
Talking about how he first got started in the sport, he said: “I had always been interested in it as a sport but I started just by chance in Churchdown.” Piers was trained by Kevin Nelson at the Churchdown club, who himself had to take a training course to learn how to train wheelchair fencing. Piers went on to take part in his first ever international event in July 2012.
To achieve world number one ranking is an amazing achievement, and his mother couldn’t be more proud of her son. Jo Gilliver, mother of Piers, told the press: “It is fantastic for me to see my son doing so well. For him to be the world number one is a just the result of a lot of hard work that he has put in, I am so proud.”
We shall all have to keep an eye out for Piers when he goes for gold in Rio this summer! We would like to wish him all the luck in the world. You can follow Piers on twitter https://twitter.com/piersgilliver