Davis puts mourning on hold

26 July 2012 / 16:53

Rising fencing star James Davis has admitted he would struggle to get through his maiden Olympics if he allowed himself to dwell on the tragic death of his mentor.

Davis' former coach, James Perry, was killed in a car crash less than two weeks ago, something that left the 21-year-old devastated as he prepared for London 2012.

However, an emotional Davis was determined not to be consumed by his grief, revealing he would continue to mourn the man he described as "the greatest coach I ever worked with" after the Games.

"I have to focus, keep on training," said Davis, who will compete in the individual and team foil competitions. "Yeah, it is a big loss to me - someone that I knew very well. But, that's life unfortunately. I have to deal with it after the Olympics and get on with it.

"As we're here, I've got no choice but to focus and just go for gold."

Asked if he was competing in memory of Perry, who began training him at the age of 12, Davis added: "I'm here to compete for myself and for my country, and that's it. If I start thinking about it then it'll get to me. Knowing him very well, he'd want me just to focus on my game and that's all I'm going to do. I've just got to give it 100%."

It has been a rollercoaster two months for Davis, who learned of his Olympic selection in June and is the youngest member of the British team. Despite Team GB being outsiders to end their 48-year wait for a fencing medal at the Games, Davis claimed he was only interested in gold.

He was also determined to enjoy his first Olympic experience, admitting he had been left starstruck after arriving at the athletes' village.

He said: "It's absolutely great. It's everything we've worked for. This is the pinnacle of our careers, the Olympics. We've done so many little things, like kitting out and stuff, and now I'm finally in the village, it's so surreal, it really is.

"I saw Venus and Serena Williams yesterday. I've seen Novak Djokovic around. You're seeing all these athletes and you've got to remember you're actually - I wouldn't say on a par yet - but you're at the same level. You're an athlete - you're on top of your game. It's great. It is an amazing feeling."