17th January 2016
Olympic Qualification Rivals, Germany, beaten on way to Paris World Cup Bronze
The British Men’s Foil team took an enormous stride towards qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Sunday as they secured the bronze medal at the Paris World Cup. The Great Britain team of James Davis, Laurence Halsted, Richard Kruse and Marcus Mepstead came back from behind in a tense bronze medal match against South Korea. At one point the British team were seven points adrift but Davis closed the gap to just two points in the sixth leg (of nine). Solid performances from Halsted and Kruse meant that the gap remained the same as Davis took on Taegyu Ha in the anchor leg. Davis leveled the scores before time ran out and secured the victory in a priority minute.
Speaking about the result, British fencer Laurence Halsted said; “It was the manner of our victories, showing the mental strength and maturity to come from behind at various points, which gave me the most satisfaction from the day. I would also like to say how awesome it is that James will fully embrace the pressure of situations like the sudden death hit against Korea. What a simple and beautiful last hit that was!”
It was also a great day in terms of gaining Olympic qualification ranking points. The British team met Germany, their main rivals for an automatic qualification spot for the Rio Games, in the round of sixteen. The fight was tight throughout but the British team were never behind. The low-scoring match went into the final period with Britain leading 24-21 with a total of twenty-nine hits scored in the final leg as Peter Joppich (GER) was forced to chase the match. James Davis held his nerve with some brilliant and composed fencing to take Britain to a 39-35 victory. Germany fought well in the placings matches to finish ninth, but Britain’s bronze medal finish meant that they increased their lead in the Olympic rankings by fifteen points.
The final Olympic qualification event takes place in Bonn, Germany on 7th February 2016 and put simply, if Great Britain equal or better Germany’s result there, then they will lead them in the rankings for Rio. However, Great Britain will only qualify a men’s foil team if France, Italy and Russia remain inside the top four “automatic qualification spots” of the World rankings. The British team has put themselves in a strong position but it’s all to play for in Bonn in just under a month.
Speaking about qualification, British Fencing’s Performance Director, Alex Newton, said; “The boys had to put in their best performances today to ensure we keep team qualification on track. They knew what they had to do and executed the plan brilliantly, earning themselves a bronze medal in the process. But now all our attention turns to the final team competition in Bonn. Over the next three weeks we need to keep our focus and determination to ensure that we repeat today's performances. There are many variables that will come in to play with securing qualification, but all we can do is focus on our own performances, not be distracted and make sure we have given it our best.”