A student from Toot Hill in Bingham has been selected to represent England at the 2022 Commonwealth Fencing Championships.
Louis Taiwo has just finished his A Levels at the school – which is part of the Nova Education Trust – and is now busy preparing to take part in the prestigious competition in London in August.
His dreams of becoming an Olympic athlete started when he was very young and and Louis has some extremely inspiring role models.
“From an early age I have always desired to be champion,” he said. “Whether in my studies, work or sport, the goal has always been the same.
“At the age of four, I remember watching Usain Bolt win the three gold medals in 2008 Beijing Olympics. Seeing him breaking multiple world records really inspired me.
“All I knew is that I wanted to be an Olympic champion and I would make that my main ambition to guide me to where I’m at now.”
Swimming was a passion of his and like many youngsters, Louis loved all sport but some he participated were a little different than his friends.
He was also taking part in triathlons and pentathlons, but it was around the age of 10 when he settled on fencing as his sport of choice.
“I think this was because I found a different kind of enjoyment,” continued Louis. “Maybe it was the combat element or possibly because it was out of the norm. I was intrigued by it. I have now been fencing for eight years and my journey has definitely been interesting.”
Louis quickly became regional champion and was selected to represent England in his first international competition in Wroclaw, Poland.
He has since represented Great Britain at under-17 and under-20 level and travelled to various European countries including Italy, Denmark, Slovakia and Croatia.
Despite his rapid rise in the sport, Louis has realised there is still a road to travel if he wants to achieve his ultimate goal of representing Great Britain at an Olympics.
“Before this selection for the Commonwealth team, my biggest achievement was making the squad for the Under-17 European Championships in 2020,” said Louis.
“I had felt like I was almost there, that I had nearly made it, but it enhanced my perspective of the level I was at. I wasn’t there yet. I still had so much more to improve upon in skill and maturity. Since that experience I have made the necessary improvements to try and meet the standards I have set for myself.
“I have partnered with mentors from my club (Derbyshire Epee Academy), British Fencing, Sports Aid and the True Athlete Project and I believe that without them, these accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible.”
Louis recently completed in the Men’s British Championship and finished in the top eight out of 121 competitors. Earlier this month, he received the email telling him he was off to represent England at under-20 level in the Commonwealth Fencing Championships.
“Never have I or my family felt such pride and joy from any of my individual accomplishments,” he said. “I feel one step closer to my goal which further drives me to keep working hard.
“Never would I have imagined the amount of effort others have put into me to reach this far. My family, friends, mentor and teachers believed in me to help realise my goals.
“My mother and grandmother didn’t have the same chances as me, yet they supported me with money, time and effort so that I could have a chance to reach this far and will prove to them that their efforts are not in vain.”
The tournament runs from 9th to 20th August and is taking place at the University of East London, SportDock Campus. Not surprisingly, his teachers at Toot Hill are very proud of his achievements so far.
Catherine Mordue, the Head of 6th Form College at Toot Hill, said: “Louis is an exceptionally hard-working and focused student who demonstrated our college motto of ‘Dare to Know.
“Away from school, he has also shown his determination and drive to achieve his fencing ambitions.
“To be selected for the Commonwealth Games is an amazing achievement and we look forward to seeing how he performs in the summer.”