LSBU student wins prestigious fencing tournamentEhsan Miri, PhD student at London South Bank University (LSBU), recently won the Cambridge International Tournament – and is the only fencer in the world to sign a contract with the Qatar National Olympic Committee.
The Cambridge International Tournament is a six weapon British Fencing Association(BFA) registered open, and includes the categories Men's Foil, Women's Foil, Men's Epee, Women's Epee, Men's Sabre and Women's Sabre.
Competing in the Sabre category at the Tournament, 26-year old Ehsan – who benefits from LSBU's Elite Sports Programme - was in second place at the end of the group stage. Having already left 28 fellow competitors behind, Ehsan found himself in the final – and beat the 2013 champion, British fencer Thomas Nicholls.
Getting back in the game
"Winning this competition meant a lot because I had taken a 9-year break from my career as a professional fencer", says Ehsan.
"I lived in Malaysia and Qatar and during this time the International Fencing Federation (FIE) rules prevented me from competing, because I could not represent any countries. I could not believe that I was able to perform like I used to after such a long break."
Fencing is far more than a hobby for Ehsan – the student who left his home country Iran-Tehran at the age of 16, has worked with coaches from across the globe, which helped him secure 22 titles in international fencing competitions – including the World Cup.
"I first became interested in fencing after seeing my brother's consistent success in international tournaments - he encouraged me to take up the sport when I was 11 years old", says Ehsan.
"I had many great and tough moments competing in high level international competitions. When you are representing a country, a million eyes are looking at you, and you are under loads of pressure."
"But when you win, you feel like the mission has been accomplished and that's the time you enjoy the atmosphere the people create around you."
From PhD student to Olympic athlete
Aside from his fencing career, Ehsan also has a strong background in academia –he holds a Bachelor's degree in Architectural Science from Curtin University, a Master's in Architecture from Portsmouth University - and is currently studying for a PhD in Sustainable Design and Engineering at LSBU.
Ehsan is part of the Elite Sports programme at LSBU, and is supported by the Academy of Sport. As part of Ehsan's scheme, he receives financial help, as well as a support from an allocated mentor. Ehsan's mentor provides guidance and advice on how best to manage his commitments. In March, the Academy of Sport will be supporting Ehsan as he competes at the British Universities and Colleges Fencing Championship, where he will be representing LSBU.
"The great environment at London South Bank University, as well as the support I have received from the Sports Department during my time here, has inspired me to get my fencing career back on track when I complete my PhD", Ehsan says, and adds "I would like to thank my parents for their support - without them I could never have reached this level. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my supervisor and relevant authorities, who helped me both with my studies and sports career."
Ehsan has been selected to sign a two-year contract as a professional athlete with the Qatar National Olympic Committee –the only fencer in the world to do so – and is planning to start training for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil upon completion of his PhD at LSBU.
Find out more about the Elite Sports Programme.