Fencing coach has grip on new handle

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The future of fencing is in safe hands after a Spalding coach played a key role in helping to revolutionise the sport.

Andrew Bayston, head coach at Custodians Fencing Club based at the town’s Castle Sport Complex, was one of several experts around the world to advise on the development of a new handle to improve competitiors’ performances.

The new product, which is now in full production, uses self-setting rubber so that fencers can tailor their handles to make them more comfortable and easier to use.

Andrew said: “I’ve been fencing since I was 14 and when you get to a reasonable standard, unless you’re a professional who can get a manufacturer to design a handle specially for you, a lot of people modify their own equipment.

“I needed something to help my weapon feel more comfortable in my hand and I came across Gillian Gilks some years ago who was, at the time, European badminton champion.

“She had overcome a problem with tennis elbow by doubling up the grip of her badminton racquet with tape, so I got some thick, spongy tape and tried it on my sword handle to make it more comfortable.”

Andrew, who celebrates his 20th year as a fencing coach next year, shared the idea with leading equiment manufacturer Leon Paul which has adapted it in developing its new pistol grip handle.

“They already had the idea in place but the manufacturers needed consultants, so I sent them a sample of my sword handle and helped them test it.

“I was only brought in as a consultant over the last year, so I’m amazed that a club fencer’s idea has gone all the way to the leading manufacturer in the world.”