Fencing: Lisa McKenzie back in action

Fencer Lisa McKenzie from Colinton
Fencer Lisa McKenzie from Colinton
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Edinburgh foilest Lisa McKenzie has as good a mentor as she could have hoped for in 1998 Commonwealth gold medallist and father, Don.

The University of Edinburgh student has just returned to competitive action after seven months out following hip surgery last November and finished fifth in the London Open.

As she steps up her preparations for her selection for Glasgow in 12 months’ time, McKenzie hopes to emulate the moment her dad stood tall in Kuala Lumpar 15 years ago.

McKenzie reveals she and her father have enjoyed a close relationship through their mutual affection for the sport. The 24-year-old said: “My dad never pushed me towards it at all and I think he was just delighted that I love everything about the sport as much as he does.

“He is one of my coaches, but we don’t compare what we’ve managed in our careers. But there were a few things I won when I was younger that I thought to myself – he was a year older when he managed to do so!

“It was a different era and he was a men’s foilest, but it is nice to know I come from such a successful background.”

Through regular commitments with both Scotland and Team GB, perhaps McKenzie’s most notable achievement was in 2010 at the Commonwealth Fencing Championships in Melbourne where she secured silver in the women’s foil.

Having missed out on selection for the Olympics last year,she insists she is undeterred and has refocused all her energy into ensuring qualification for the Commonwealth Games next year.

“I’ve had a hip injury and had taken two years out studying to train full-time,” she said. “Unfortunately I had to have an operation and this is me just getting back into competition and finding my fitness. It was just bad timing (with the Olympics) and really unfortunate.

“I think it was all just a bit of wear and tear from competing so often. The surgeon said it is a common injury because of the pressure put on the hip.

“But it feels a lot better now. I fought well (at the London Open) and my hip held out which was nice, considering I’ve had seven months off from competitions and training.

“I should be fine for selection for next year. It’s always special when you are selected for your country and different from when you turn up to any other competition. You are there as part of a team and the support is going to be amazing.”

An important year lies ahead academically as McKenzie enters her final year of study for her physics degree. She will, however, maximise her efforts away from the books, starting with a training camp in Como, Italy at the end of this month.

Hugely gratified by the support received through the Bank of Scotland Local Heroes athlete pool, the Edinburgh Fencing Club prodigy is ready to finally hit the heights.

She said: “The advertising for the sport has been amazing and it’s great to have the support of such a big organisation. It really helps with sponsorship, training and the opportunity to speak to local businesses and schools to promote your sport.

“Italy will be useful so we’re going for a week for a training camp. Italy is the leading country in women’s foil at the moment, so it’s great to have links with them.”

l As part of Bank of Scotland’s London 2012 legacy, Bank of Scotland Local Heroes, in partnership with SportsAid, will provide support and funding to 82 emerging Scottish athletes in 2013. More than 220 Local Heroes have benefited from the programme since 2008. Follow Scotland’s future stars at facebook.com/bankofscotlandlocalheroes.