Wheelchair Fencing National Training Centre and EIS Athlete Health & Performance Studio opens at University of Bath
A new dedicated training facility for the world-leading Great Britain wheelchair fencing squad has today been officially opened at the University of Bath, along with a rehabilitation studio for athletes from other Olympic and Paralympic sports.
World Champions and Tokyo 2020 medallists Dimitri Coutya and Piers Gilliver, fresh from winning four gold medals apiece at the 2022 European Championships, treated guests from the University, the English Institute of Sport (EIS), British Fencing, UK Sport and other partners to a demonstration of their sport at the opening of the Wheelchair Fencing National Training Centre.
The spacious facility, built in the multi-purpose Jumps & Throws Hall at the Team Bath Sports Training Village (STV), will provide a permanent home for the hugely-successful GB squad who have been based in various locations around the STV during the past seven years.
Adjoining the fencing centre is a newly-built EIS Athlete Health & Performance Studio, which will be used by support staff working with high-performance athletes based at Bath – including British Swimming, Pentathlon GB and the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association (BBSA) – for collaborative rehabilitation.
Peter Rome, Lead Coach on the Wheelchair Fencing World-Class Programme since 2016, said: “It is great to have this dedicated space for our squad to train in. We have enjoyed tremendous success at Paralympic, World and European level in recent years and this centre will allow us to build on that, while also continuing to grow and expand the programme going into Paris 2024 and beyond.
“Thank you to the University of Bath, EIS, UK Sport and all who have made this possible and supported our sport over the years.”
Stephen Baddeley, Director of Sport at the University of Bath, said: “We are proud to host the incredibly talented wheelchair fencing squad at the University of Bath and it has been truly inspiring to see the hard work of athletes, coaches and support staff at the STV translate into phenomenal success on the international stage. We are sure this new national centre will help the programme go from strength to strength.
“The EIS Athlete Health & Performance Studio will enhance the already impressive high-performance sport set-up at the University. The development of these new areas has come after tremendous sustained collaborative effort by all parts of the UK High Performance system – thank you, as always, to our partners for their support.”
The EIS is the largest single provider of world-class science, medicine, technology and engineering support services within the sport sector to British Olympic and Paralympic sports, enabling those sports and elite athletes to excel. The EIS has been based at the University of Bath since 2002, and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Di Benham, Operations Manager at the EIS in Bath, said: “We have supported world-class performance athletes throughout this period and have seen much success but we lacked a suitable space for collaborative rehabilitation.
“We are very excited to now have a dedicated space where Performance and Athlete Health is centremost in our delivery to support the sports. The new development increases our ability to provide for the bespoke needs of athletes while increasing our practitioner scope and skill-set plus, importantly, playing our part within the national high-performance system.”
The project was funded by an investment of just under half-a-million pounds from Sport England via UK Sport.
The £35million Team Bath Sports Training Village is home to around 250 high-performance athletes including six current Olympic and Paralympic Champions – Freya Anderson, Tom Dean and James Guy (swimming); Joe Choong and Kate French (modern pentathlon); and Piers Gilliver (wheelchair fencing).
Many of them are now working towards Paris 2024, with the University of Bath hosting a qualifying event for the Olympics – the UIPM Modern Pentathlon World Championships – in August 2023.