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Page last updated at 10:18 GMT, Tuesday, 31 August 2010 11:18 UK

Rhys Melia is excited by Olympic prospects

Rhys Melia (left)
Birmingham-based Rhys Melia (left) beat the world number 10, Kurt Getz, at the World Cup in March in Portugal

By Kieran Crowley
BBC Sport Blast reporter

Birmingham-based fencer Rhys Melia believes he is in a good position to reach the 2012 Olympics in London.

The 20-year-old has just qualified for the World Fencing Championships and is now looking towards getting in the GB fencing team for 2012.

Melia said: "When London got the bid for 2012, the excitement around that, it made everyone take a few more steps.

"We are heading towards it now at full pelt and I'm in a good position at the moment so I might just get there."

Melia won the BBC Young Sportsman of the Year in 2008 and is currently ranked fourth in Great Britain, which means he would qualify for the Olympic team.

However, he is not putting any extra pressure on himself to reach the Olympics with a long career ahead of him.

"London 2012 is an ambition but I am still young, so I was always aiming for 2016," he said.

"I am looking to solidify what I have learnt, take any experiences forward with me and I want to just continue to step up onto the next stage."

Melia has already made an impact on the senior stage, beating three-times world champion Peter Jollich, of Germany, 5-3 in the group stages of the 2010 European Championships. He is now looking to continue his good form on the world stage.

He added: "I've been fortunate to get results to qualify me for the World Championships and the Europeans are a good stage to qualify at.

"However, there are so many good competitors out there, so I have to be modest really and I'm not getting ahead of myself."

Great Britain won the bronze medal in the team event at the European Championships in July, and Melia believes the GB team are stronger than ever.

If I get to the Olympics, then fencing could become more popular around here which would be one of my dreams

Rhys Melia

"We are achieving great results across the world stage at the moment and we could definitely have a chance of an Olympic medal, which would create a legacy for fencing in Britain," he said.

"Our two top lads at the moment, Richard Kruse and Laurence Halsted, are both ranked in the top 20 in the world. Considering we have nowhere near the structure of other competing countries, we are up there."

Having won four consecutive British junior titles, the pressure was on Melia to transform this success onto the senior stage. However, he believes this has helped his progression into a full-time athlete.

"After I achieved on the domestic scene, I was able to move up the ranking system and start competing internationally which took the pressure off," he said.

"I didn't really think about the pressure as I was busy cementing my position, getting to the world events and looking ahead towards the Olympics."

Melia is currently running training sessions in Birmingham so that more children can get involved in the sport. Looking towards the future, he hopes funding is given to the grassroots of the sport after the 2012 games.

"Most of the funding will go towards the bottom level of fencing, in the build-up towards future Olympics. We have to improve the structure though so more people progress to the elite stage," he said.

Rhys Melia
Melia won the BBC Young Sportsman of the Year in 2008

"With the coaching I do, more people get involved in the sport so it would mean a better future in fencing. My coaching is based in Birmingham and hopefully I'm giving future talent a chance."

Having developed his talents in Birmingham from a young age, Melia is hoping that London will not be the only city to benefit from the Olympics.

"I think all cities will benefit as more media attention will be around sport and then hopefully the money will be put back in to improving sports schemes nationwide," he added.

"As for Birmingham, in particular, there is a lot of success around here, especially in athletics. But if I get to the Olympics, then fencing could become more popular around here which would be one of my dreams."

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