Rocks is off down under as part of Scottish fencing team for Commonwealth event
Shetland fencer Christopher Rocks has been selected for the Commonwealth Fencing Open Championships.
He will be part of the Scotland squad for the event, sanctioned by but independent of the Commonwealth Games. Although the games will be held in Delhi, India, the fencing championships will take place separately in Melbourne, Australia.
Rocks, 22, who is now based near Hull where he works as a business analyst for an engineering company, said the invitation from the selectors had come by email at the beginning of the week.
He said: “I was quite excited. It’s something I’ve been trying to achieve this year. I’ve done a lot of hard work – me [coach], Andy Alderman and the guys at Shetland Fencing Club. It’s amazing, a reward for hard work.”
This will be Christopher’s first international event and the furthest he has ever travelled.
His employers were being “generous” about giving him time off to compete, he said. Prior to going to Melbourne he intends to take part in the Essex Open in Colchester “to get me back into the swing of things”, then come back to Shetland for more training.
He said of his preparation: “I like to think I’m fairly healthy and fit. I’ve been in the gym most days but I’ll do more gym work and more fencing with Andy and get in as much [training] as possible. Then I’ll be ready to go.”
Rocks started fencing with twin brother Stephen when he was seven and became the Scottish épée champion in January. He said: “There’s always some nerves but once you get into a [competition] you focus on the fencing and things get better from there.”
Alderman said: “Christopher had been fencing since he was a young lad. He has gained maturity as he has come through the sport and gradually got better and better. It shows what you can achieve [even though] you’re based in Shetland.”
He said the training, combined with grants to help him go to competitions, had paid off, and he still came home to be coached in Vidlin Hall.
Rocks is the second member of Shetland Fencing Club to compete in the Commonwealth event. Kate Manson took part in the games in Australia in 2002.