En garde! Sporty Nicole Saunders has been picked to represent her country at fencing.
Nicole, 11, from Leyland, is one of the youngest in the Under-13 Sabre category. She is now preparing to take on some of the best young European fencers at a four-day competition, the Challenge Wratislavia European, in Poland on March 19.
For Nicole, the news she had been selected was perfectly timed.
She said: “I got told on Christmas Day, so it was sort of a present. They sent an email to my mum and she told me on Christmas Day.
“It made Christmas extra special.”
Nicole first got into fencing at Trinity and St Michael’s C of E and Methodist primary school.
And since that first introduction three years ago the talented Year Six pupil has gone from strength to strength and has her sights set on becoming an Olympian.
She said: “I started doing it in June 2013.
“Four children I go to school with went to do a fencing competition.
“They won it and it sort of got me thinking, I liked the look of it and I went down to a training session.
“I started at Rivington Park Fencing Club in Chorley and then I moved to Marshall Fencing Club in Chadderton, Oldham.
“I have entered a few local competitions and I did my first northern competition in November 2013.
“I came second and then I did a few more and travelled further afield to take part in competitions.
“I took part in the British Youth Championships in May 2015 and that is how I was picked for England.
“I am very proud of myself. I am one of the youngest competitors to be going.
“I want to go to the Olympics when I am older.
“But firstly I want to do as well as I can in the competition in Poland, try and get selected for England again next year and eventually get selected for Great Britain.”
It is a competition for the home countries rather than Great Britain as a whole.
But Nicole is hoping a good performance at the event might catch the eye of the British selectors. A spokesman for British Fencing said: “It is one of the biggest competitions for young fencers in Europe.
“It is extremely well attended and some of the young fencers from across Europe will be taking part.”