The British Olympic Association (BOA) today announced that Great Britain will have the opportunity for eight fencers to utilise Host Nation Qualification Places to compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The decision to permit British Fencing, which is the National Governing Body for fencing in Great Britain, to utilise the Host Nation Qualification Places was made by the Olympic Qualifying Standards Panel, which among others includes Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt; the Chair of the BOA Athletes Commission Sarah Winckless; and the BOA’s Director of Sport Sir Clive Woodward.
The decision was made following a comprehensive consultation with British Fencing. The utilisation of the Host Nation Qualification Places is subject to the GB athletes meeting the National Governing Body’s Olympic selection criteria.
British fencers who achieve Olympic qualification automatically will secure qualification places for Team GB in addition to the Host Nation Qualification Places. The maximum number of fencers a National Olympic Committee can enter into the Olympic Games is 16.
BOA Chief Executive and Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said:
“British fencing has demonstrated real performance progress in recent years. Since the last Olympic Games, where Team GB was represented by three fencers, they have won 13 World Cup medals and claimed four European Championship podium places, including Britain’s first major championships team medal for 30 years with bronze in the men’s foil at the 2010 European Championships.
“The host nation qualification places will give British fencers a great opportunity to demonstrate the dynamic and exciting nature of the sport and I’m sure our fencers will be inspired by the support of the home crowd in London.
“With the opportunity to qualify a further eight fencers automatically, there can be no greater motivation to continue the commitment and dedication in training and competition to ensure that Team GB is represented by the biggest and best group of fencers possible at London 2012.”
BOA Director of Sport and Team GB Deputy Chef de Mission Clive Woodward said:
“Fencing is one of only four sports to have featured in every Modern Olympic Games since 1896 and I’m excited that eight British fencers have the opportunity to take up Host Nation Qualification Places and show what they can do.
“Competing on home soil in 2012 will give British Fencing an important moment in the spotlight to help strengthen and grow the sport and introduce new competitors of all ages and backgrounds from across the UK.
“Crucially, the Host Nation Qualification Places may benefit the legacy of the sport by giving the opportunity for some of the younger fencers who could be considered 2016 Olympic medal potential to gain vital experience of the unique Olympic Games competitive environment.”
British Fencing Chief Executive Piers Martin said:
“We thank the BOA for the fantastic news that we’ve secured the host nation places for fencing. It is a great testament to all of our fencers and their support teams who have been producing results across all of the weapons over the past few years. With the support we get from public and private funding, the results are now coming at all levels, showing that we also have strength in depth. It is clear that our performance path is on an upward trajectory. We can now use this Olympic Games not only for medal success but as a platform for future Games.”
British Women’s Sabre Fencer Chrystall Nicoll said:
"This is great news for all of us. Our focus is on automatic qualification and this news will not change that. However it does mean that we will have full teams in some events where we might not have had and that British Fencing have the chance to give Olympic experience to those who may have a medal chance in 2016."
British Men’s Foil Fencer Laurence Halsted said:
“Whilst my prime goal at the moment is automatic qualification for London 2012 every single British fencer will welcome this news. It is recognition from the BOA that all of the hard work that has been put in by every weapon over the past years has been worth it. GB Fencing is truly on the world map.”