Chichester’s Viv Mills hopes to add to her prestigious career by winning a medal at the Hong Kong Wheelchair Fencing World Cup.
Despite taking up the sport only four years ago, she has stunned the world of fencing with her numerous successes locally, nationally and internationally.
In her short time playing the sport Mills has won several bronze and silver medals, been British sabre champion for three years, achieved bronze at the Montreal championships and came fifth in the Lonato World Cup in Italy.
The inspiring athlete revealed how she become interested in the sport as she looked ahead to the Hong Kong event, which runs from today (Dec 13) until Sunday.
“I’ve been disabled for a long time and have always looked for a sport I could take part in,” she said.
“I used to play hockey and cricket but in 2008 I was watching the Beijing Paralympics and really enjoyed watching the wheelchair fencing.
“I tried to walk but I knew medical science still has a while to catch up so I wanted to do something in the mean time.”
Her decision has paid of - since 2008 she has stunned the world of fencing with her performances. One reason for her more recent successes has been the generous contribution of well-known Chichester sports firm Game Set and Match.
Mills had no-where to train other than the driveway outside her house, but after reading a piece about her plight in the Observer, bosses came to her rescue and she now trains weekly at their premises on the Quarry Lane industrial estate.
Mills said: “Game Set and Match have been enormously helpful, I used to have to train on my driveway and my neighbours would come out and watch.
“It wasn’t a very good way to train but they (Game Set and Match) were very generous.”
Game Set and Match are a family business with the staff comprising of Andrew Barnes, his son Ben, who is an ex-England hockey international and daughter Rebecca Stemp.
Rebecca believes it is very important disabled athletes are encouraged to take part in sport:
“We read an article in the Chichester Observer which showed Viv training in her driveway so we decided to let her use our facilities to improve her skills, as we could see how talented she was and knew she could only get better.
“Her drive and enthusiasm is incredible, we knew we had the facilities to help her and her training schedule fitted in perfectly with what we could offer.
“It is very important disabled athletes are helped to develop their skills in different sports, you only have to watch the Paralympics to see their talent and determination.”
Mills now aims to begin coaching to help younger athletes realise their potential and is set to start teaching wheelchair fencing in the new year at Chichester Girls’ High school on Fridays.
Rebecca added: “We try to do as much as we can to help local athletes, we help young people who have scholarships and disabled sportspeople who are looking to start a sport.”
by JOSH HARRISON