A relative late comer to the sport of fencing, picking it up at the age of 20, Neill Tannock’s star has risen very quickly in the sport – competing for both Great Britain and Scotland just a few short years after picking up his sword.
Always a fan of playing sport, Neill found himself looking for a new challenge when a rugby injury aged just 17 took him out the game. Upon joining the University of Dundee to study geography with a specialism in geology, fencing caught his attention. It soon became apparent he had a natural flair for the sport and before long he was good enough to wield his weapon competitively.
“Once I started with the sport I felt a real passion for it and threw everything I had into it. There wasn’t any coaching available at the university so I used to study YouTube footage to understand the techniques and how I could improve,” he said.
By the time Neill reached his final year he had split his remaining studies over two years to allow him to perform at the top level possible in both the academic and sporting worlds. Which he certainly did achieve as he was named the University of Dundee’s Sportsman of the Year, as well as competing for both Great Britain and Scotland – and he graduated too.
Neill’s first professional post was with Aker Solutions as a data analyst, where his professional ambition matched his sporting ambition with him joining Aberdeen City Club where he attended and coached.
After three years at Aker – during which time Neill narrowly missed out on competing at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 due to a knee injury – he made the move to Archer and then to his current role as Cased Hole Geoscientist at Baker Hughes.
Now 30, Neill said: “Throughout my working life I’ve been very lucky to be able to juggle a demanding training schedule with my career. Fencing means a great deal to me but it’s important to be able to fit my training around my job. Baker Hughes has been really supportive allowing me to be flexible with the likes of on call rotas when I’m away competing at weekends.
“I currently train around four times a week and once at the weekend. That is a big commitment and it can be hard to balance but I make sure I also schedule in some time to switch off.”
The reason for all this training takes place in Largs from November 10-15. Scotland is hosting the Commonwealth Fencing Championships where Neill is competing for Scotland in the Epee class.
“My colleagues are very interested to know what matches I’m competing in but I’ve not yet managed to convince them to come along. Luckily for me the matches are being live streamed so I know I’ll have my own cheering squad rooting for me despite the fact it’s at the other end of the country.”
Just an hour away from Glasgow and part of Homecoming Scotland 2014, this event is a unique opportunity to experience this visually stunning and exciting sport at its highest level within an event that offers a fantastic family experience.
Further information and tickets are available online at www.cfc2014.org