Fencer Claire Bennett is an ambassador for Street Games.
Former fencing Commonwealth Games gold medalist Claire Bennett has swapped her foil for a plastic sword in an effort to help underprivileged young people.
Following the disappointment of missing out on reaching London 2012 the 27-year-old turned her attention to becoming an ambassador for Street Games.
The charity works with young people in disadvantaged areas who may not have access to sport in an effort to make them healthier, happier, more confident individuals.
Bennett is firmly of the belief that it’s every elite athletes responsibility to give back.
“I know first hand how much of a difference sport can make to a persons life,” she said.
“It has shaped me in countless ways. I was never very strong academically and sport helped me become more organised, focused and driven.
“It’s about engaging with these young people, getting to know their characters, understanding what makes them tick and giving them confidence to achieve what they want in life.”
Speaking about a recent project she held in Millwall, the fencer was pleasantly surprised with the youngsters connection to the lesser-known sport.
Despite Great Britain failing to get a single medal in the ten fencing event at this summer Olympics, the sport received a 22% funding boost for the 2016 games in Rio.
And Bennett may have been moulding some of our future athletes.
“A lot of these kids have never been exposed to fencing before so to them it’s a new challenge,” she said.
“I brought in ‘GO/FENCE’ equipment which includes plastic swords and masks.
“It’s a very fun way of introducing fencing to young people in the community. It was wonderful to see them all with big smiles at the end of the session.”
Alongside being an ambassador for Street Games, the former elite athlete has also become an athlete mentor with the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust.
Having taken a sabbatical from fencing, a sport she’s been involved in from the age of ten, Bennett has in turn been greatly helped by DKH’s Legacy Trust.
Speaking of the Trusts’ role in her life now Bennett said: “The DKH Legacy Trust has helped filled a gap I had after I no longer had fencing in my life every day.
“They helped me create a new identity for myself and helped me realise that I can do something positive and good with life after sport.
“It’s a really great charity because it mutually beneficial not just for the athlete but also for the young people involved.
“They use athletes like myself to share our experiences and motivate kids and try and get them engaged again.”
Looking forward, Bennett has set her sights on finding ways of further promoting women in sport and one day possibly transitioning in television presenting.
Bennett explained: “I want to use my role now, still being quite young and fresh from having been involved in elite level sport, to promote women in sport.
“I feel really pleased that I can put try to inspire others in the public arena, despite it being difficult, get women’s sport out there more.
“I’ve always wanted to go into sports television presenting or sports journalism and it may be something I’d like to get into later on down the line.
“For the immediate future it’s quite nice to give back. I’m finding it hugely rewarding and believe it’s a very important thing to do.”
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