On Saturday 1st July NI Fencing Performance Director Mike Westgate was awarded the Lifetime Achievement at the British Fencing Awards Dinner held at the University of Nottingham.
Mike started fencing when still at school in Great Yarmouth in 1954. He fenced in a number of competitions in England but had a serious knee injury playing football which finished his competitive career. In 1966 he gained his first coaching award and coached at his school and in the evenings at clubs. Mike coached the England Schools team and later the British Junior Epee team. He also helped the Foil National Coach with the Senior squad weekly training sessions.
In 1977 he was invited to help with the training of Northern Ireland fencers and coaches. This involved traveling to Northern Ireland at least for six weekends a year. Later he became part-time National Coach. In 2000 Mike moved over to Northern Ireland and now lives in Drumahoe. He coaches at Foyle Fencing Club, Queens University, Ulster University as well as visiting clubs throughout the Province.
The award was given for the work done and his achievements over the years. He has attended European and World Championships at both Junior and Senior level since 1980 as a coach to Great Britain and to Ireland. In 1980 he attended the Moscow Olympic Games as a coach to the Irish Modern Pentathlon team.
It is difficult to point out the highlights of my coaching career. There have been so many and I have been fortunate to have the pleasure of working with so many talented people. Perhaps in Northern Ireland seeing the first fencer to qualify for the Olympics, the first home-based fencer to qualify for a World Championship, win a British title or a medal in a Junior World Cup.
I feel that I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach and work with so many talented people. To be presented with this award is the highlight of my career which makes me feel both humble and proud.
NI Fencing would like to extend their congratulations to Mike on this great achievement and thank him for all his hard work over the years.