Neighbours chip in to help
Olympic fencing hopeful
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Curtis Miller, 23, lives in Penn Road with accountant Allison Sewell who must be the proudest mum on the street.
He was five months old when he moved here, eleven when he started fencing at the highly-respected Camden Fencing Club (run after-hours at Acland Burghley) and 16 when he started competing
Curtis’s close friends in the street are Wesley Wroe, Tom Cagnoni and Ben Mayo. They knew how talented he was and how hard he trained. They also knew that lack of funds meant there were some international contests that he simply couldn’t take part in.
Wesley, Tom and Ben talked to their parents, their parents talked to his club and the Rev Dave at St Luke’s church - and they all talked to Curtis’s mum. Result? Curtis started going to more of the contests needed to help him realise his potential.
In 2012, Curtis won Bronze in the World Cup Under-20s in France
and, in the same year, came 5th in the same competition in Germany. He’s now on the World Class Programme Team GB – and hopefully headed for the Olympics.
Since September 2014, Curtis has been funded under the World Class Programme, which is mainly provided by UK Sport, and includes amounts from the lottery. But it’s obvious that he’ll never forget the support he was given back in the day by his neighbours, his club and his church - and how it put the smile back on his mum’s face.
So, which countries has our left-handed wielder of the sabre visited in the last ten of his 23 years? America, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Poland, Russia, Sicily, South Korea and Spain. And counting.
Apart from a proud mum, supportive neighbours and St Luke’s, Curtis has also had Ronald Velden behind him all these years. Ronald founded and ran the Camden Fencing Club until retiring last year – and remains President.
It was Ronald who never stopped telling Curtis that, if he put in the work, he could be the best. ‘He must have told me that a thousand times!’ says Curtis. According to Ronald, Curtis was always a very nice boy and everyone at the club was very fond of him.
‘Everyone’ includes Ian Williams who himself represented Britain in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and who is Head Coach at the club. Ian has been coaching Curtis since he was 11 and has also helped develop another two of the five Olympic fencing hopefuls on Team GB.
Curtis tends to downplay his academic achievements but the truth is that between the lunges, parries, feints and ripostes he got his GCSEs in Business, English, Maths, Science and RE, went on to take the NVQ Sports Development Course at La Swap, then studied Sports Science and Psychology at London Metropolitan University. Nothing like having some future insurance.
He currently trains six hours a day Monday to Friday at the Leon Paul Centre in Hendon – and takes part in competitions every two weeks or so on Saturdays and Sundays. Since he turned 20, Curtis also coaches young fencers and adult beginners at his old stamping ground the Camden Fencing Club. As he says, ‘It’s good to give something back.’