By Steven Oldham, Sports Correspondent
Fencer Jon Willis has announced his retirement from international competition after failing to secure nomination for a host nation place on Team GB for London 2012.
Willis, who went to school in Hazel Grove, will quit after the European Championships in Italy later this month.
His decision follows British Fencing’s announcement of seven fighters who will progress to London 2012, with no men chosen for the epee discipline in which Willis is the British number one.
Jon had been training outside of the national programme in Germany, and now intends to be return home to be closer to his family.
He said: “At 31, I would have liked to have carried on fencing until at least 2016 but with no funding and in the light of recent experience it has become clear that it would be impossible to do so in the way I would have wished.”
His German club, Heidenheimer SB, offered him a coaching role following his decision to quit internationals, but he has turned it down to come back to Great Britain, partly due to his father’s ill health.
He said: “I am not going to walk away from the sport I love. I hope to carry on fencing at some level and I plan to undertake my refereeing qualifications.”
“Working with young fencers, especially after seeing the way it is done in Germany, is something I know that I have a passion to continue.”
Only Richard Kruse and Natalia Sheppard earned London 2012 qualification on merit – however British Fencing has ten host nation allocations to fill, with three spaces still to be announced in the team foil event.
Jon lists his two World Cup gold medals and his time as British number one as just a couple of his career highlights.
In a blog post on his website, he paid thanks to several people who have influenced his career, including his first coach Bob Merry and his family.
You can read the full blog on Jon’s website – www.jonwillis.co.uk
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