Paralympic champion Piers Gilliver preferred studying history to playing sport as a child and now feels a broad responsibility to respect tradition and keep sport clean.

Fencing star Gilliver turns 30 just a few days after the conclusion of this summer’s Paralympics and a defence of his epee crown would constitute a perfect early birthday present.

But Gilliver hopes his third Games is also one void of doping drama, having developed a passion for keeping sport clean aged just 15.

“When I first came into the sport, it was never something that crossed my mind,” he said.

“Especially with fencing, it's not traditionally a sport you think of when it comes to doping.

“For me, a big game changer was when I went to the UK School Games and there was a lot of anti-doping talks and education there. That was a big eye opener for me.

“People are always trying to find little improvements, but as an athlete you need to be as careful as possible.”

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) promote regular education workshops and initiatives, such as the Protect Your Sport campaign, which encourages people to come forward in confidence and share their concerns about doping in sport, but Gilliver believes each athlete should take a proactive approach to their clean sport education.

“Passion brings everyone into sport and from that you really need to be aware of your anti-doping role within your sport,” he said.

“If doping is malicious and deliberate you need to be aware that not only is it ruining your career, it's your teammate’s reputation, your country's reputation, and the sport as a whole that’s affected.

“Every athlete needs to be aware of the implications of doping, so educating yourself and being super clean helps protect yourself and the sport you love.”

Gilliver may have become ParalympicsGB's first wheelchair fencing gold medallist for 33 years in Tokyo, but he was not always set for sporting success.

The Gloucester-born star wasn’t a fan of sport when he was younger and only stumbled across wheelchair fencing via a google search, so feels an inherent responsibility to ensure it is accessible to all.

“I was never sporty before I found fencing, nothing really took my interest and I can’t catch, so ball sports were never really my thing,” he said.

“Having a level playing field for everyone is hugely important across all sports. I believe you must give 100% to your sport, but do so your way. For me, that’s having respect for my competitors.

“As soon as it becomes something where someone has an unfair advantage and someone has cheated, that topples the whole system because what's the point in even trying.”

Only last year there were fears over Gilliver’s Paris 2024 Paralympic chances, with a series of concussion injuries keeping him off the piste for seven months.

But Gilliver is fit again and confident he can build on his success in Tokyo, spurred on by the prospect of seismic crowds and adding to his medal haul.

“I recently competed in a World Cup in Cardiff and it was the first time I've had that many home supporters,” he added.  

“Paris is obviously so much closer than Tokyo, but also there’s no Covid as well, so having crowds and support will be very different and really special.

“Looking at medals, I think I'm in the position where I'd love to be able to defend my title, but also to be able to challenge across other disciplines as well.

“In Tokyo, we burst onto the scene with our team silver which was great as we were relatively new to the event and I'm also really keen to push forward my individual sabre and show the world what I can do in Paris.”

Protecting clean sport depends on everyone in sport playing their part to maintain a level playing field. If you have any suspicions that something’s not right, no matter how small, search Protect Your Sport or email