Norfolk fencing legend sets down her sabre – at 91

International fencing champion Connie Adam has just retired from the sport, aged 91. Pictured during

International fencing champion Connie Adam has just retired from the sport, aged 91. Pictured during at the Norwich Older People's Forum AGM at The Halls. Picture: Bethany Whymark - Credit: Archant

An international fencing champion from Norfolk says she is finally ready to set down her sabre – at the age of 91.

Fencer Connie Adam, pictured aged 88. Picture: Maurice Gray

Fencer Connie Adam, pictured aged 88. Picture: Maurice Gray - Credit: Archant

Connie Adam took up fencing aged 60 and went on to achieve global acclaim, winning 140 medals in the sport and being crowned European champion and Commonwealth champion.

But she has finally hung up her mask - not due to waning fitness, but the fact that the 17kg kit had become too heavy for her to transport.

Instead she has taken up a lighter sport, badminton, which she plays twice a week.

Sporting enthusiast Mrs Adam was speaking at the Norwich Older People's Forum AGM on Wednesday, which focused on celebrating older people and the continuing contributions they make after retirement.

Connie Adam takes over the Olympic torch relay from Norwich Castle in 2012. Photo: Bill Smith

Connie Adam takes over the Olympic torch relay from Norwich Castle in 2012. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2012


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Speakers including former Norfolk coroner William Armstrong and Maggie Wheeler, chairman of arts venue and charity The Garage.

Mrs Adam, from Earlham, started work at 14 at Steward and Patteson's brewery, but had to give up her job after getting married at the age of 20 as at the time the company did not employ married women.

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She spent the next 20 years primarily as a housewife but continued to find work, often juggling three or four jobs at a time.

But time and money for hobbies were scarce. "I had not done anything to do with sport, mostly because we were skint - we were bringing up three children, we never had any money," she said.

"When the children left home I was only just into my 40s so I said to my husband, it's about time I did something."

And "do something" she did, starting with learning - and eventually teaching - various dance styles from ballroom and Latin to disco and tap.

After being introduced to skiing on a trip with Town Close School at around the age of 50, Mrs Adam had found her next sporting passion and spent a decade honing her skills.

It was an advert in the local paper which drew her to fencing, first at a club in Duke Street then at the University of East Anglia sports park.

"When I told my husband he said 'you can't fence', and I said 'neither could anyone else until they tried'," she said.

As a recognition of her sporting achievements Mrs Adam was asked to carry the Olympic torch for a stint as it passed through Norwich in 2012.

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