Norwich fencer Anna Bentley takes her own journey from bid to Olympic berth

16:01 01 July 2012

Former Norwich High School for Girls pupil Anna Bentley, who will be competing at this summer

Former Norwich High School for Girls pupil Anna Bentley, who will be competing at this summer's Olympics in London.

Norwich fencer Anna Bentley has made good on the promise she uttered at Trafalgar Square in 2005 – and cannot wait to compete at this summer’s London Olympics.

The 31-year-old ex-Norwich High School for Girls pupil was working in one of the capital’s offices when she bunked off lunch to take in the bid announcement for the 2012 Olympics, being watch by a bumper crowd in central London.

And much like Stratford’s own journey from bid to first bang of an opening ceremony firework, confirmation of Bentley’s inclusion in Team GB’s foil squad earlier this month completed her own bid to compete at her home Olympics.

“I always watched the Olympics as a kid and never really thought I would be taking part in one,” admitted the Aberdeen-born Salle Boston member.

“But in 2005 when they announced London was getting the Olympics, I was actually at Trafalgar Square for it. I was working nearby and I snuck off and made up some excuse to have a long lunch.

“I had just started my first season of international competition and sat there for that announcement and thought ‘right, that’s it – I’m going for it; I want to be there’.”

Lengthy hours at her Lea Valley training base end over the coming days for Bentley, with a training camp in Poland next week before the fencers stop at Loughborough’s Team GB holding camp and then on to the Olympic village in Stratford ahead of the opening ceremony on July 27.

But her fencing background is all about Norwich, travelling from Bergh Apton to take part in Andrew Sowerby’s Norfolk Academy of Fencing classes from the ages of 11 to 17.

“Andy did a come and try session at school and after that I joined his club and through them I did the age group stuff through Norfolk,” said the Norwich City fan, whose parents Peter and Kay still live in the city. “It kept getting wider. It became East Anglia and then the east, and then national competition.

“It’s funny because I remember my parents telling me when I moved to London, I hooked into one of the big clubs and the coach there has been my coach ever since – and he was saying what a good foundation I had. If you’re taught wrongly when you are young it’s really hard to unlearn those habits, and they’ve always said Andy did a really good job.”

Britain’s last Olympic fencing medal came 48 years ago, after Henry ‘Bill’ Hoskyns took epee silver in Tokyo. And for 2012 it has taken a lot of time, sacrifice and substantial backing by sponsors Beazley for Team GB to get a full squad competing at their home Olympics.

Bentley, national champion for the last three years, has her own aims for London as she gears up for the individual and team foil events.

“My priority is the team event because that is what I got my wild card for,” she said. “That’s where my strength is and the goal for the team is to make the final and then from there, anything can happen.

“Individually I’ve got my own goals. I’d like to make the top 16. But the team is where all my focus is at the moment.”

Team GB’s fencing squad had a tough time of it a this month’s European Championships in Legnano, Italy – but Bentley believes there were obvious reasons for a few strange results.

“We had a very difficult championships, just because the Europeans are normally at the end of July and we get a six-week build-up, go abroad and prepare properly,” said Bentley.

“This year, because of the Olympics it’s just squashed in between. So our management and the team decided we were just going to train through the Europeans because obviously they don’t matter – it’s all about the Olympics.

“We did our heaviest training the week before we went to Italy and I think you could see that in all the results. The Italians only took one medal, where usually they sweep the board.

“I hate losing as much as everyone does, and it’s really hard to put yourself on the line knowing you are not physically ready for it.

“But at the same time, you can’t lose your confidence because you know you are not going to feel like that when it comes to the Olympics.”

Related articles

1 comment

Latest Sport Stories

Arsenal fans show their colours and support in the stands. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Alex Bellotti suggests the sanctity of match-going is being replaced by passionate fan communities online.

Yesterday, 18:36
Surrey winners of the Division 2 LV County Championship  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

English cricket will break with tradition in 2016 after the England and Wales Cricket Board announced a new rule which will see the forsaking of the toss.

Yesterday, 07:06
Michael Peart (yellow/black shorts) defeated Kristian Laight at York Hall. Pic: Philip Sharkey/TGS Photo

Islington lightweight ‘Mustard’ Mike Peart made a successful step up to six rounds as he comfortably outpointed Kristian Laight on Saturday at York Hall.

Wed, 17:46
Islington BC's Simon Collins

Islington BC’s Simon Collins recovered from a difficult start to clinch victory against home boxer Joe Dennison on a Banbury ABC show on Saturday.

Wed, 17:38
Hanover Primary School's successful squad at the Islington Schools swimming gala

Four Hanover Primary School students secured gold medals as their girls’ team finished triumphant at the Islington Schools swimming gala finals.

Wed, 17:34
Bethune (blue) beat Young London Meteors 2-1 in the Dickie Davies Cup. Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Hackney & Leyton League Premier Division leaders Mile End are through to the next round of the Dickie Davies Cup after their impressive 9-2 win over Riviera.

Wed, 17:27
Left to right: Luca, Liam and Luan Veras with their medals at the Belgium Open Kumite Championships. Back: their father and coach, Sensei Raphael Veras

Brothers Luan and Luca Veras both overcame strong competition to pick up gold medals at the International Belgium Open Kumite Championships in Leuven.

Wed, 16:02
Chris Rainsford (left) in action on the road for Highgate Harriers. Pic: Dieter Perry

Highgate Harriers were crowned national champions on Sunday as the prestigious UK 10k road race championships were held as part of the 30th anniversary of the Age UK Leeds Abbey Dash.

Most read sport


MAC Makeup

MAC are renowned for their flawless, fabulous make up that is used worldwide by the stars. You too can have the chance to have the perfect makeup to suit your needs with £1,000 to spend on all the glam goodies you like!


You are never far from an Argos, wherever in the country you may be. They are like a magical cavern where whatever you need they seem to have it out the back behind the counter. So why not put them to the test with this great MyOffers competition to win £1000 to spend in-store.

Digital Edition

Read the Islington Gazette e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder