ONE Oxfordshire sports fan will have the best seat in the house for the fencing at the Olympics this summer, when he takes his place as a referee.

Tristan Hale, 28, from Begbroke, will be the UK’s youngest fencing referee for the Modern Pentathlon competition.

He has been fencing himself since the age of eight and said he was over the moon to receive his place.

He said: “It’s the best, but possibly the most stressful seat in the house, I think. If I wasn’t excited about the Olympics before, I most definitely am now.”

Mr Hale, a sport development officer with the Oxfordshire Sports Partnership, qualified as a level one fencing referee in 2004.

And after reaching the highest qualifications available nationally, he then passed international exams in 2010 and 2011.

He said: “I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to be part of the Olympics.

“Getting my first international qualification was fantastic and it enabled me to get some really good experience refereeing some of the best in the world all across Europe. Suddenly my Olympic dream looked like it might become a reality.”

Fencing is one of only four sports to feature at every modern Olympics since it started in 1896.

Mr Hale said: “I’ll be one of 12 referees from the UK for the Modern Pentathlon fencing, so I was honoured to be picked. People think the referees don’t care, but we do understand how important and huge this event is for the participants.

“The people competing there will have been training for this event on and off for their whole lives.”

Although he is excited about appearing on TV cameras, Mr Hale said the thought was also making him increasingly nervous.

He said: “If you’re the participant and you make a mistake, then it’s your fault and you can deal with that.

“But if you make a mistake as a referee, then you have potentially ruined someone’s life. I’ll try not to think about that.

“So at the moment, the idea of walking out in front of a full crowd and all the TV cameras is both intimidating and exhilarating.”

The competition will take place in the newly-built Copper Box in the Olympic Park from August 11.