Fencer James Honeybone is under no illusions as to the size of the challenge facing him at the European Games, but insists a successful outing in Baku can leave him perfectly placed ahead of next month’s World Championships.
Truro-born Honeybone was Team GB’s sole representative in the men’s sabre at London 2012, where he went out in the first round.
He will again fly the flag in the men’s sabre competition when action gets underway at the Crystal Hall in Baku on Tuesday, and the triple British champion is in buoyant mood.
The 24-year-old was the only British fencer to make the last 32 at the recent European Championships in Switzerland, which also doubled up as an Olympic qualifying event.
The next opportunity to boost his Olympic chances will be at the World Championships in Moscow from July 13-19 although for now, attention is on strutting his stuff in the Azerbaijani capital.
Traditionally the European scene has produced some of the world’s best men’s sabre competitors and, with that in mind, Honeybone knows the Games can provide the perfect warm up for Russia.
“Performance-wise I just want to go out there and feel confident in my own fencing and try and go into the World Championships from there. Hopefully if I can perform well, the result will come with that,” he said.
“The men’s sabre is very much a European dominated weapon. So in some ways the European Championships is actually far harder than the World Championships.
“The World Championships, in the group stage, you will have people from nations who are perhaps not so strong but at the European Championships, every single pool will be very strong.
“It’s a pressure cooker environment, and that will be the same for these European Games. It will be a strong event.”
The European Games provide a rare opportunity for Honeybone to gain further experience of the multi-sport environment.
And with Rio fast approaching on the horizon, he admits it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“It’s always brilliant to be able to represent your country and Team GB has got such a good following, it’s almost like a national symbol now the whole country gets behind,” he added.
“Competing at the London 2012 Olympics was incredible, especially that moment walking out there in front of the home crowd.
“In a sport like fencing, which is not even in the Commonwealth Games, we never normally have a multi sport event outside of the Olympics. In London it was quite a bit thing to suddenly be around all these different sports suddenly. And it’s good to have that again in Baku in the build up to Rio.”
© Sportsbeat 2015