01/05/2024- Latest News


Close, but not close enough in Luxembourg.

Carolina Stutchbury faces Malina Calugareanu (ROU) in the final (Photo: #BizziTeam)


The final Olympic qualifying competition for European athletes to attend the Paris 2024 Olympic Games was held on the 26th-28th April 2024 in Differdange, Luxembourg, and finished in nail-biting frustration for Great Britain’s athletes.

The Luxembourg tournament was the final ‘Zonal’ qualifying tournament, for European nations that have not already won a spot via the team or individual entry routes.

The Zonal qualifier is a unique event under immense pressure and not all fencers were able to perform to their ability. A single athlete from each country (as yet without a spot in that weapon) is allowed to compete.  It is an individual competition in all six weapons with a single, brutal outcome – the winner of each competition receives a ticket to Paris, with everyone else leaving with nothing.

On the first day, Kristjan Archer finished thirteenth in Men’s Foil of twenty-two participants. Julia Caron then had a superb run in Women’s Epee to the last four, but was out-strategised by Dar Hecht of Israel in the semi-final.

Julia Caron (Photo: #BizziTeam)


Carolina Stutchbury, Britain’s top female foilist of the past few years, was very close to gaining a place for Paris this year on world ranking alone; yet because of the complicated rules on continental qualifying, she needed to finish the World Cup and Grand Prix season in a spot higher than Hungarian Flora Pasztor, an Olympian in 2020. Despite coming close several times, she didn’t quite manage it against some excellent performances from Pasztor.

Stutchbury, the reigning Junior European Champion, then entered the Zonal qualifier as the second seed of nineteen athletes, and scythed her way through the field, beating her first two opponents 15-1 and 15-3.

Carolina Stutchbury (Photo: #BizziTeam)


She had more trouble against Ukrainian Alina Poloziuk, but stayed the course to win 15-11, showing real composure and maturity to deal with an aggressive pushing attack and to come from behind to win.

This set up a final with top seed Malina Calugareanu of Romania. Despite some excellent attacking play and being five points ahead in the early part of the match, the Romanian edged in front and ran down the clock to eventually win 10-9 and take the Olympic place.

It was a terrible blow for Stutchbury, whose extraordinary achievements over the last few years have now not resulted in an Olympic appearance, despite coming incredibly close.

Georgina Usher, CEO of BF, said,

“Whilst overall we are disappointed that our athletes did not secure a qualification slot, we recognise the commitment and hard work put in by all the athletes and their coaches to get them to this point.”

“For Carolina, the youngest member of the squad at eighteen, to finish such a close second at this tournament against a highly experienced opponent, is mark of her incredible performance trajectory. We have no doubt we will see her competing in LA in 2028.”

“Julia Caron’s third place at this competition, along with our recent U20 World Championship performances, is also indication of the strength we have coming through our Junior pathway.”

Alec Brooke and coach Tamás Kovács (Photo: #BizziTeam)


Will Deary, the bronze medallist at the European Games in 2023, placed ninth in Men’s Sabre, and Alec Brooke, silver medallist at the recent 2024 Junior World Championships, placed tenth in Men’s Epee. Caitlin Maxwell came a little closer, sixth in a field of thirteen in Women’s Sabre.

Unfortunately, this means that Great Britain will not be sending any fencing athletes to the Olympics in Paris this year, and will be focusing performance attention on the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.

The situation for British fencers at the Olympics this summer is contrasted with a healthy Paralympic side of the sport, with several athletes attending Paris (the full squad is still to be confirmed) and a strong likelihood of a podium finish. GBR won five Paralympic medals in wheelchair fencing at Tokyo 2020.

BF would like to extend congratulations to all the athletes making the trip and competing among such strong fields.

Click here for full results from Differdange.

Click here for photos from the competition.


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