FROM a young age, fencer Isaac Hayes would use almost anything he could find as a sword.
Later, he would channel his childhood fascination into becoming a national gold medallist.
The 16-year-old St Philips Christian College student started fencing when he was nine.
A family friend introduced him to the Newcastle PCYC Fencing Club at Broadmeadow, and he knew he had found his calling.
"When I was younger I wasn't particularly athletic like my brother and sisters," he said.
"In fencing, you can outweigh physical strength with technical, which I like because it still allows me to be competitive."
But the climb to the national title was slow for Hayes, who only decided to take fencing seriously three years ago.
It was at the under-15s state championships in Marrickville in 2011 that he realised he could go further.
Hayes was pitted against a contestant favoured to win and finished second overall.
"That was when I decided I wanted to be good [at fencing]," Hayes said.
In 2013, Hayes qualified for the National Schools Fencing Championships in Brisbane, where he won the team event and came third in the individual event.
He competed at nationals again last month, this time finishing on top in the senior boys' epee.
In a match that requires patience and skill and is more about defending yourself than hitting your opponent, Hayes outwitted six Queensland finalists.
Hayes said he hoped to one day compete internationally.