Dominique Szokolovics has set her sights on reaching the 2016 Olympic Games after winning the British women’s foil title

Watford Observer: Dominique Szokolovics Dominique Szokolovics

Ten years on from becoming the youngest British senior fencing champion, Dominique Szokolovics was back to compete at the National Championships in Sheffield on Saturday.

Just like in 2003, despite a spell out of the sport, she was victorious and was crowned women’s foil champion. But 2013 was a very different experience for the 25-year-old from Rickmansworth.

“I struggled with nerves,” she admitted. “That is something I didn’t get when I was younger. I also had to make sure I prepared correctly but when I first won the competition I could do it without eating or sleeping properly.”

Szokolovics, who also claimed the British title in 2007, saw the competition as a true test of a comeback which began last year.

She had quit the sport after suffering a cruciate ligament injury which meant she wasn’t able to compete at the 2008 Olympic Games.

“Missing out on Beijing caused massive heartache for me,” she explained. “So I stopped and, to be honest, I didn’t have any plans of returning.”

While she wasn’t competing, she remained a coach at Watford & Three Rivers Young Blades. It is where she was taught and credits coaching as the inspiration which led to her return.

She said: “I love teaching the kids and they really inspired me. So I made the decision to come back and I decided I was going to give it my all.”

Szokolovics’ victory at the British National Championships looked unlikely after her opening contest. She was beaten 5-1 by Scottish-based fencer Lisa McKenzie but recovered and won her next four qualifying matches.

The former St Clement Danes School pupil was seeded tenth in the elimination phase of the competition and made it through to the quarter-final where she faced London 2012 competitor Natalia Sheppard. Szokolovics took a convincing early lead and was comfortably 7-2 ahead. However, Sheppard rallied and established a one point advantage.

Szokolovics fought back and held her nerve to draw the bout and, in the priority minute, she scored the winning hit with only seconds remaining.

“I knew once I beat her it would be plain sailing,” Szokolovics admitted.

She eased through her semi-final and took on Georgia Hannay for the title. The result was never in doubt as she recorded a 15-5 victory to secure her third British title.

Szokolovics has now set her sights on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. She will return to fencing full time but will have to stop teaching.

She said: “I really enjoy teaching and it’s nice to give something back to the sport. I will stay at Watford & Three Rivers but will not be doing coaching around the capital. Although when I retire I will certainly return.

“But I will be travelling the world to compete and hopefully I can get my ranking up into the top 16. If I do that then I can try and progress and make it to the Olympics. It would be amazing to make it to the Games.”

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