Cullercoats fencer Hannah Nesbitt insists she expects nothing less than a podium finish as she prepares to take to the piste at BUCS Nationals in Sheffield next week.
The 21-year-old, a languages student at Sheffield Hallam University, will compete in the women’s epee and, as an international fencer for Great Britain, is among the favourites to land the top prize.
Taking place from February 17-19, BUCS Nationals will see more than 6,000 students from across the country descend on the Steel City for three action-packed days of sport.
And for Nesbitt, who is currently studying in Munich on a six-month exchange, representing her university fills her with great pride as an alternative to the international fencing scene.
“I started fencing epee six years ago,” said the former King’s School pupil.
“I went to Normandy with the Girl Guides and one of the activities there was fencing. I am very competitive so when we did a competition, I beat everybody.
“My parents found a local club and my career in fencing began. I made the England team within my first year and the GB Cadet squad within my second, and in 2016, finished second at the British Senior Championships.
“I’m really looking forward to fencing at BUCS, and I would like to win obviously. Last year was my first year competing at BUCS, I came fifth which I wasn’t happy with at the time, so this year I’m aiming to medal.
“It’s going to be a tough competition because there are so many good fencers and everyone is trying to win.
“I love competing at BUCS because it’s unlike any international competitions that I do, and I would recommend it to anybody.
“As you get closer to the medals, a fencer can have a whole squad behind them supporting and cheering them on. It then becomes a battle not only between the fencers, but the teams as to who can cheer the loudest.”
BUCS Nationals is the UK’s largest annual multi-sport event, and has provided a building block in the careers of many professional athletes.
And Nesbitt hopes it can springboard her to further success, too, with high hopes for her future in the sport.
“My current aim is to win the senior British Championships, I came second last year so I’m going for gold this time,” she said.
“I’d love to go to the Commonwealth Games in 2018 in Australia, and my long term goal is to go to the Olympics, so I’m going to put a lot of hard work and dedication into my sport.
“That requires a lot of personal sacrifices, but in order to succeed, that is a necessary part of the sport.”
British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for Higher Education (HE) sport in the UK, organising leagues and competitions for more than 150 institutions across 52 different sports. BUCS Nationals is the UK’s largest annual multi-sport event, bringing over 6,000 athletes to Sheffield to compete in nine sports