Louise Helyer

In this latest instalment of our series focusing on the CSE's Individual Performance Programme athletes we talk to fencer, Louise Helyer.

An interview with Louise Helyer: one of the CSE's performance athletes in fencing.

Edinburgh’s gym is amazing! I’ve never seen a gym like it... its massive, I still keep getting lost.

Louise Helyer

Individual Performance Programme athlete: Fencing

Before coming to the University of Edinburgh, Louise was in the University of Bath High Performance Team as a full time athlete.


Career highlight?

Double team gold at the junior world championships in Shanghai, China in 2006 and Commonwealth Silver - at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games - for fencing in the team for Scotland, which was really cool.

Typical week of training, competitions and university?

Last year I was a full time athlete on lottery funding. I would train from 09.00 till 17.00 every day Monday to Friday. Saturdays I’d probably train in the morning or be at competitions over the weekend.

I was doing the five modern pentathlon sports and trained in at least four sports a day. Fencing four times a week, running five times a week and swimming five times a week, doing most sports everyday.

However now I’m studying in school trying to learn to teach and trying to fit my training in and around that.

How do you manage to fit in your training now?

Its hard work at the moment as it’s a one year course so I’ve got a lot of work. I’m training in the evenings 19.00 till 21.00 and trying to get up in the mornings. I’m trying to do as much as I can whist doing the work.

How did you get into five sports?

I was a county runner and swimmer and I did riding from a fairly young age. I started with a sport called tetrahtlon which Kate Allenby, the Olympic bronze medallist and Steph Cooke the Olympic gold medallist in modern pentathlon did before. Tetrathlon is four phases of shooting, swimming, running and horse riding, missing out the fencing.

At 17 it was suggested did I want to try fencing and try converting to modern pentathlon. I started learning to fence and actually took fairly well to fencing, it took me a couple to years but then I began to quite enjoy it.

How many competitions do you have a year?

I’ve got quite a few lined up for the University; I’m hoping to get out of school one or two afternoons all going well. I’m competing in the Five Nations for Scotland in Cardiff soon. I’m up to twelfth in the British rankings for fencing alone and then I’ve got the British champs in December in Sheffield.

How do you think the Individual Performance Programme will help you?

I came to Edinburgh because its one of the best places in Scotland to do my course. It’s got a really good name for its university courses and I knew that it had a really good sports programme running along side it.

I’d found out from the website about the IPP. Having been an athlete for the past eight years I was keen to keep my sport going. I wanted to represent the university and give something back to the university for supporting me.

What are the main differences between Bath and the University of Edinburgh?

Edinburgh’s gym is amazing! I’ve never seen a gym like it. It’s got so many pieces of equipment and its massive, I still keep getting lost.

The gym is a lot bigger than Bath’s and there’s a lot more classes that you can do like zumba and things like that in the evening. It’s generally a lot more hands on. I’ve had a lot of individual support if I’ve needed it; physio and strength and conditioning as I need it.

Sporting hero?

Kelly Holmes is one of my sporting heroes. Her determination to comeback from injury after injury to win medals in the Olympics if fantastic and the sheer guts and determination of her. She’s always been a pretty good role model for me.

In three years time…?

I hope to still be doing fencing, I’d like to aim for the next Commonwealths, having already been to one. So hopefully getting selected for the Commonwealths in Glasgow 2014. I should be qualified as a physical education teacher so hopefully with a job teaching.

Guilty pleasure?

I’m quite partial to the odd Whispa or two. I definitely have to try and limit myself on those!

The year ahead?

I have the Five Nations next weekend which is a really big competition, probably the biggest one I’ll do this year representing Scotland. I’ve got the British Champs in December and then it’ll be the university championships that we’ll move our focus to.

Academically, I’m on my placement now. I’ve got three placements to do and get assessed so I need to pass those and get the assignments in too.

Interviewed in October 2011.


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