Trainee doctor targets Euro fencing team success

Ben Bates
Ben Bates (centre) in Aix en Provence (Credit: Challenge Licciardi Coupe du Monde Aix en Provence)

Future fencing star Ben Bates is preparing for the fight of his young career next month, after being selected to represent his country in the team event at the Junior European Championships in Sochi.

The 19-year old recently defeated the 12th ranked Under 20 fencer in the world in the Men’s Foil during an impressive individual performance at a competition in Spain.

Bates, who has also been named in the GB squad for the Junior World Championships, is a recipient of TASS support having been identified by British Fencing as a developing talent.

The Birmingham-based athlete is aiming to impress in Russia as part of the GB junior men’s foil team, which is made up of four fencers including TASS teammate Harry Bird.

“I hope to give them hell, obviously!”, he jokes. “It’ll be a tough competition as the Italian, French and Polish are all very good, but we’ve got a strong team with no weak links.

“We all know our roles and we’ve got a nice team ethic. We finished 9th at the Junior World Cup this month so hopefully we can give them a run for their money and a top 8 result would be great.”

This year’s tournaments will be an important stepping stone in Bates’ young career before he moves up to the senior ranks, fencing against the fiercest of rivals.

“I like the tactical side of the sport and I’m always trying to second guess my opponent,” he explains, “it’s also physical, but if you’re not as strong you can try and outsmart them.

“The combination works well for me. I’ve put a lot of work in on improving my fitness this year, but at same time it’s very much about a smart fight.”

And the full-time student has demonstrated his brainpower both on and off the piste, having begun a degree in Medicine at the University of Birmingham.

Faced with the demanding schedule of a trainee doctor, Bates is grateful for the extra support he receives from TASS to enable him to juggle fencing and his university studies.

“The big challenge at the moment is missing days of term for international competition as I’ll be away from uni for a whole week for Sochi,” he explains.

“It’s not the easiest course to catch up with so that’s definitely one of the biggest pressures. I try to be disciplined and take a Gray’s Anatomy text book with me on the plane.”

“The strength and conditioning programme has been really beneficial. When you’ve a professional supporting you, it gives you the confidence that every session is making a difference.”

Understating his numerous achievements, Bates prefers to approach many aspects of his life with humour, even getting involved with improv comedy in his precious spare time.

“I’ve joined the Comedy Revue at uni which is a laugh, if it goes well. If it goes badly, it’s sometimes it’s even more of a laugh. I don’t do any material about fencing – it’s far too niche!”

Ben Bates
Ben Bates competes in Aix en Provence (Credit: Challenge Licciardi Coupe du Monde Aix en Provence)