The British Olympic Association (BOA) has announced today seven athletes as officially selected to represent Team GB in fencing at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
In the last three years British Fencing have won 13 World Cup medals and claimed four European Championship podium places, including Britain’s first major championships team medal in three decades.
Team GB will compete in all three fencing disciplines – epee, foil and sabre - on the Olympic programme, at the ExCel in London Docklands.
The selected athletes are:
Louise Bond-Williams - Women’s Sabre
James Davis - Men’s Foil
James Honeybone - Men’s Sabre
Richard Kruse - Men’s Foil
Corinna Lawrence - Women’s Epee
Natalia Sheppard - Women’s Foil
Sophie Williams - Women’s Sabre
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Entering his third Olympic Games, 28-year-old Richard Kruse has been in good form since the last Olympics in Beijing, winning a World Cup gold medal in 2009 as well as a silver medal at the European Fencing Championships in the same year. In 2011 he won silver at the World Cup in Seoul.
Joining Kruse in the Men’s Foil event will be James Davis, who at age 20 is the only British fencer ever to medal at the Cadet European Championships.
In the women’s foil event Olympic debutant Natalia Sheppard has been selected to represent Team GB in London.
Eleven-time British Championship medalist and double Commonwealth Junior Champion Corinna Lawrence is the only athlete selected for the epee event, with Louise Bond-Williams, who represented Great Britain at the Athens 2004 Olympics, Sophie Williams and James Honeybone selected for the sabre.
The Team GB fencing squad will consist of ten athletes in total, the Olympic selection for this sport is a two-stage process and three additional athletes to take part in the foil team events will be confirmed at a later date.
The addition of the fencing athletes brings the total number of athletes officially selected to Team GB for London 2012 to 128 across thirteen sport disciplines: archery, athletics – marathon, badminton boxing, canoe slalom, fencing, hockey, sailing, shooting, swimming, synchronised swimming and table tennis.
The athletes were formally nominated to the BOA for selection to Team GB by British Fencing, the National Governing Body for fencing in the UK. Richard Kruse qualified through his world ranking and Natalia Sheppard through the European Zonal event. The other fencers selected today are utilising host nation places.
Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said:
“With just 56 days to go until the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, I am delighted to welcome the seven fencing athletes as official members of Team GB. Their addition sees the tally of athletes now selected to Our Greatest Team rise to 128 athletes from 12 sport disciplines.
“The fencing squad announced today has a good balance of youth and experience. It is exciting to select four fencers aged 21 and under. These young athletes have a great opportunity to compete at an Olympic Games in the early stages of their career and their potential bodes will for the future of British fencing.
“I am sure that each athlete selected today will deliver a very credible and competitive performance at London 2012, and that the experience of competing in the Olympic Games will benefit them greatly in furthering their international fencing careers.”
British Fencing Performance Manager Alex Newton said:
“We've got a great blend of experience and youth in the team, with Richard Kruse qualifying for his third Olympics and Louise Bond-Williams being selected for a host nation place for her second. Natalia Sheppard is selected having secured qualification at the European Zonal competition.
“Alongside them in host nation places will be the two James's (Honeybone and Davis), Corinna Lawrence and Sophie Williams, all young fencers who will be looking to gain vital experience of the Olympic environment as they make the next significant step in their promising careers.
“We are also delighted that the BOA has confirmed that one additional place will be provided to men's foil and two to women's foil to enable full teams to compete, with the athletes for these places named on 12 June 2012.
“I think that we have a really well balanced team and I am delighted to be leading such a dedicated and talented group of athletes. I have every confidence that each member of the Team will deliver a very competitive and credible performance at London 2012. For the younger athletes, the experience of competing in the Olympic Games will also benefit them greatly for Rio and beyond.”
Richard Kruse said:
"This will be my third Olympics and it's so special that it's in London. Qualification was only job one. My focus is now fully on achieving my life's dream, Olympic gold. We won the team competition at the test event in November last year so we already have had a great experience at ExCel. Myself and the team will be working hard to repeat that in just over 50 days. My thanks go to British Fencing and our sponsors for their continued support, UK Sport for their funding and the BOA for selecting me. I will do everything to repay your backing at London 2012."
James Honeybone said:
"There are no words to describe how excited and honoured I feel to be nominated by British Fencing for a host nation place at London 2012. I would like to thank the BOA for selecting me for Team GB, also to UK Sport and Beazley for their support over the last year. I wouldn't be in this position without the support of my family, friends and coach. I hope to put in a great performance in the London Olympic Games, and also to carry that experience forward to further success in future Olympics."
Natalia Sheppard said:
"I am so thrilled and proud at my selection for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympic Games. This has only been made possible with the support of my coach Maciej Wojtkowiak and the strong back up team that now exists. Since the appointment of Alex Newton as Performance Manager women's foil squad has gone from strength to strength enabling us to outperform our world ranking, as we have continued defeating world top 8 ranked teams. Qualification is only the start of what we are aiming to achieve this summer and we look forward to showing the rest of the world just how far we have come."