"We focused on strengthening and stabilising Lucy-Belle's shoulder muscles to reduce pain and improve her control of the blade when competing. "
Andy Byrne from True Physio
A North-West physio chain has set a fencing star on the road to recovery. The teenager went on to scoop Gold at the British Youth Championships and has set her sights on representing Britain on the global stage.
Physio Andy Byrne, who has treated Andrew Flintoff and Lawrence Dallaglio, has fixed the shoulder of one of Britain’s rising stars in the sport of fencing. Lucy-Belle Williamson, who is aged just 15, dislocated her shoulder competing in the European under 17s championships in Sochi, Russia, in 2018. The resulting injury was slowing her down and interfering with her rigorous training routine.
Fencing is a very unique sport with only a handful of physios in the UK having significant experience in treating sports men and women who compete. Andy has worked with a former UK number one fencer, Jon Willis. From his True Physio clinic in King Street, Manchester, Andy told us:
“Fencing is a very one-sided sport, the sides of the body are not used as evenly as in other sports. The left and right sides of the body are expected to do very different things. And the mix of explosive, quick and very precise movements can impact fitness and recovery in a distinct way.”
Women’s fencing became an Olympic sport in 1924. Three types of weapon are used: the foil, epee and sabre. The teenager, who lives in Earby, near Skipton focuses on combat with the foil and trains up to three hours a day.
After treatment with Andy, Lucy-Belle competed in the British under-16 Youth Championships. She beat 38 other hopefuls from across the country to scoop gold in the foil category. She told us:
“I won the British Youth Championships. It’s amazing as I’ve competed six times previously and I have taken Bronze three time and Silver twice. This is the first time I have won Gold in foil which is my main weapon.”
“Lucy-Belle is a very dedicated athlete and a pleasure to treat. We focused on strengthening and stabilising her shoulder muscles to reduce pain and improve her control of the blade when competing. By her taking all of the advice on board we managed a progressive return to training and then combat. This culminated in her taking the youth gold medal, we’ll be watching closely in the run up to the Olympics in 2024!”
The fencing tournament at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will feature 12 competitions. It will be the first time that team and individual events have been held in all three weapons for both men and women. The 2024 Olympic Games will take place in Paris, by which time Lucy-Belle will be 20.
“Fencing is a more mature sport than many others. Because of that you wouldn’t expect to see an Olympic competitor until they were firmly into adulthood. Tactics play as big a part as strength and fitness.”
Andy urges anybody who is recovering from a sporting or other injury not to suffer. With the right treatment most people can resume sporting activities in a short space of time.