An interview with Laurence Halsted

22nd November 2011

22nd November 2011
With the London Test Event taking place on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th November, we speak to men's foilist Laurence Halsted.
How would you rate your performance in the Worlds?
The first round went just as I would have hoped, winning all my matches without trouble.  The first round knock-out was very disappointing because I felt I could and should have beaten my opponent.  I was really hoping for a storming performance this Worlds and it didn't happen this time.
Of your competitors at the Worlds, who impressed you the most and why?
I was surprised to see how well the French fared, both individually and as a team.  They are historically very strong, but this current team not so much.  In fact we feel like the GB Men’s Foil team matches up against them pretty well, but they got a medal in the individual event and won a silver medal in the team.  They managed to raise their performance amazingly for this event.
What are you working on for the rest of the year?
A more detailed analysis of our opponents and ourselves.
What are your Olympic aspirations for 2012?
Still a medal.  Always a medal.  With the backing that we’ve had from Beazley and UK Sport we’ve been given every opportunity to achieve our very best in 2012.
How do you feel about the rise in media attention in the build up to the Olympics?
It's great to get some interest for our sport but on a personal level it's a bit of a double edged sword.  It does increase the pressure somewhat, knowing that more people are watching and expecting.  If you can win a medal at the end of it then you already have the momentum of attention and you can convert it into something really good for the sport.  If you don't get the medal that everyone is expecting then you can't slip under the radar as easily as if you never had the attention in the first place. I'm perfectly happy to take on this challenge because it has arisen from a great opportunity.
How would you describe the team spirit amongst the men’s foilists?
Potentially you could come up against one of your teammates at a major tournament and then have to work together in the team event – does this present any challenges and how do you overcome them?
It's a part of the game that we have learnt to deal with over many years.  I have much experience of this since perhaps my biggest rival all the way up from kids fencing has been my teammate Richard Kruse.
How has the new Performance Manager changed the way you approach training?
We have certainly increased our fitness based training and I can see the effects already.  There is also more emphasis on a detailed and holistic approach to training now, where every aspect of training comes together in one detailed training plan.
The British Senior Championships are in December, what is your goal and how important is this event?
In reality it's not a vital competition in the grand scheme of things this year but it will always have prestige attached to it.  I've won it once in the past and I'll be highly motivated to win it this year.  It's great to be able to say that you're British Champion.
The fencing calendar is full of trips to interesting cities around the world, where has been the best place you have fenced?
I think the Men’s Foil team are incredibly lucky to have a competition in Havana, Cuba, every year.  I must have been there 7 or 8 times now and I always love it.  The last time our team extended our trip after the competition for a week so we could hire a car and see more of the island.  It is truly a wonderful country with a welcoming population and totally unique infrastructure.  I advise everyone I meet to go there before their political system changes and everything becomes Americanised.
You recently starred in a music video for Two Spot Gobi – will you be swapping London for Hollywood once the fencing career is over?
I certainly enjoyed trying out a different style of performing and it was great to be able to collaborate with a good friend on a project like that (my friend James is the lead singer in the band) but I'm sure I'm not headed for Hollywood.  Then again I'm very keen on avoiding gainful employment, so if the chance arises...
What do you hope to do once you finish fencing?
I am keen on becoming a cowboy in Australia for a decent period and I'm desperate to start practicing free running and kite surfing.  In fact I can see myself doing a lot of surfing because I'm not very good at the moment and I would like to be.  I've also identified canyoneering as an activity that would keep me happy for quite some time.  It'll be important to me that I can stay fit and healthy and I've thought recently about some way of bringing fencing to kids who wouldn't usually have a chance to try it.  Lots of things you see,  I'm very excited about the future after fencing.
And finally, please complete this sentence – ‘The foil is the best weapon to fight with because’… it's more interesting than epee and not over as quickly as sabre.

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