British fencers miss out on medals

28 July 2012 / 21:39

Natalia Sheppard was the only one of three British fencers in the the women's individual foil on the first day of Olympics fencing competition to win a fight as Italy took gold.

Sheppard beat team-mate Sophie Troiano 12-9 at the ExCeL arena, but was then crushed 15-5 by France's world number six Corinne Maitrejean in the last 32.

Aberdeen-born Anna Bentley, by far the lowest-ranked of the 38 competitors in the event, was a heart-breaking one second away from pulling off a huge upset, but lost in sudden death in the first round.

The 31-year-old, at 165th in the world ranked 122 places below Canadian Monica Peterson, brought a huge roar from the crowd when she took a 9-8 lead with six seconds remaining.

But her opponent levelled it with a do-or-die lunge and, despite Bentley's protestations, scored the decisive hit 23 seconds into the extra minute.

Sheppard refused to blame her defeat on being woken up by the opening ceremony fireworks.

"I couldn't believe how loud they were - incredible," said the 28-year-old, whose older sister Irena fenced for Poland in Beijing four years ago. "I got my phone to take pictures, but by then it was all over. All I got was smoke - London on fire basically.

As for her loss she said: "Corinne is an amazing fencer. It's her second Olympics, so she has all the experience behind her, and a few of the tactical things we worked on didn't 100% pan out."

She, Bentley and Troiano will try again in the team event, but if they start with a victory over Egypt they then have to tackle the mighty Italians.

Truro's James Honeybone is next into action in Sunday's men's sabre.