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Fencer who represented Wales at the Commonwealth Games strikes out after A-level success

18 Aug 2022 4 minute read
Family handout photo of Rhiannon Craig. PA Wire.

A champion fencer from Wales has received a full set of A*s in her A-levels and been given a place at university to study medicine.

Rhiannon Craig, 18, who represented Wales in the Commonwealth Games 2022, only returned home from the competition two days before finding out her outstanding results.

The teenager from Chepstow said she now has her sights on being selected for Team GB this autumn.

Ms Craig also plans to take up her spot at the University of Nottingham from September, where she hopes to join their athletes programme and take her first steps towards her current dream of becoming a brain surgeon.

She told PA news agency: “I just got back from the Commonwealth Games two days ago, so it’s been a very, very nice surprise.

“I’m really looking forward to going to Nottingham now. They have an excellent fencing team and that played a big part in why I chose to go there.”

Ms Craig said she fell in love with fencing after being introduced to it at a minority sports stall in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics aged six years old.

“I was at an equestrian event with my mum who likes horses when we came across the stall which was trying to get younger children into sports,” she said.

“I happened to try fencing and even though the kit was far too big for me I really enjoyed it.

“We’d moved to Chepstow and there happened to be a fencing club there called Gwent Sword, and so I went along to that.

“I think my parents were kind of hoping that I’d go along, I’d get hit a couple of times and think ‘maybe not’,” she added jokingly.

“I just absolutely fell in love with it. I love how competitive it is – there’s no draws in fencing. You win or you lose.”

‘Stress reliever’

Ms Craig is now the Wales senior national champion and competed in both the junior and senior Commonwealth Games events for her country.

She said her teachers at Chepstow School had been supportive of her sporting endeavours and helped her by sending work to her while she was away at competitions.

Her love of sport also lead her to play an active role in the school’s student leadership team, working alongside headteacher Matthew Sims to improve sporting facilities.

“I really believe there’s a sport for everyone and that everyone should give sports a go even if you end up playing a super-obscure sport like fencing or something no-one has ever heard of,” Ms Craig said.

“Sport is a good way to cultivate new friendships, as well as keeping fit and getting out and about. And especially with exams, and exam stress, it’s an amazing stress reliever.”

The percentage of A-level entries in Wales to be awarded the top grades of A* and A this year was 40.9%, the overall pass rate for students being 98%.

Welsh education minister Jeremy Miles, who met students getting their results at Coleg Sir Gar on Thursday, said: “What we hoped to see in the results overall this year was a midpoint between last year and 2019, and broadly speaking that’s what we’ve seen.

“This has been a year where there has been significant disruption again and students have shown great resilience.

“I think the circumstances faced by young people over the last few years will mean many have become great self-starters.”

Mr Miles said he anticipated exams regulator Qualifications Wales will also allow next year’s students to have advanced information on topics expected to be covered in exams due to disruption they experienced this year to their studies.

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