Marcus Mepstead is heading home from Tokyo after participating in one of the most memorable Olympic Games in world history.
Two times Olympian Mepstead was Team GB’s sole fencing representative in Tokyo, having secured the top European qualification slot in an extended qualification period. Currently ranked 14th in the world, he bowed out to HAMZA (EGY) 15/13 after an intense bout in the table of 32, where every point was fiercely contested.
Going into the Games London-born Mepstead was ranked number one for men’s foil in the United Kingdom and 14th in the world. He cemented his credentials as a world class fencer at the 2019 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary where he won individual silver, beating the world number one in the first round before overcoming top fighters from Czech Republic, Russia, Poland, and Korea on the way to the final.
His performances throughout a qualification period interrupted by the pandemic included a silver medal in Mexico City and an 11th place result in Turin, to finish as the number one athlete in the European Qualification Zone.
Marcus says, “I felt like I had a good game plan, I tried to stick to it and work through, it just wasn’t enough today. I could have done better I think. I’ve just been trying to fight to get here. Fight through everything. I felt like I did what I needed to do, it just wasn’t enough.”
Speaking of interruptions and distractions during the bout, he says, “I expected there to be, I tried to reset and just keep focused throughout. It made it difficult for sure but I’ve done the sport for long enough to know how to deal with those kinds of things, so I felt like I could manage it.
“The last couple of years, the last year, everyone is on the same boat, it’s not just me. It felt like it just wasn’t my best show, I could have done so much better. That’s what hurts the most. I do feel like I let myself down, a lot of people down, I could have done so much more.”
On the facilities for athletes in Tokyo, he says, “Team GB have put on a great set up for us here, they’ve done really well. I can’t fault that at all.”
On the challenges of an extended qualification period and coping with restrictions, “The extra year was long, just trying to fight through everything, trying to find people to spar with. Coming back to the UK then going back to the US, I went to Italy and Spain before just to try and set up some different sparring. I knew after the last qualifying competition that I needed competitions and I needed different people to fight against and there was nothing we could do except for when things opened up, go and fight with people and wait for that to happen. I say we waited too long but really, as soon as it opened, we were out, there was no other chance to do it. I did what I could with the circumstances.”
Marcus’ father, Stephen Mepstead adds, “At the age of 11, Marcus wrote in his school leavers book in 2003, ‘in twenty years’ time I will be fencing in the Olympics.’ He has succeeded in doing so, at Rio in the Team in 2016 and now in the individuals in Tokyo as the sole member of the Great British Fencing team. For Marcus to have secured the number one European slot is an extraordinary achievement, given the quality of the opposition he has faced in this Olympic cycle. Onwards and upwards.”
Olympic Team Manager Johnny Davis says, “After winning a silver medal at the 2019 World championships we have navigated a difficult and complicated journey to make it to these Games. Marcus has shown determination and resilience throughout these challenging times, and we are all extremely proud of him. The journey is not over, far from it.”
British Fencing CEO Georgina Usher says, “Whilst we would have liked to see more of Marcus, this doesn’t detract from the inspirational impact of the Games and the achievement in being represented as a nation in the sport of fencing. Our young athletes often tell us that they were first inspired to pick up a sword having watched TeamGB compete at the Olympics and our network of clubs and partners across the UK are looking forward to welcoming a new generation into our sport. Thanks to the National Lottery players and everyone who has supported our journey so far.”
Chair of British Fencing Mark Lyttle says, “On behalf of the Board of BF I extend my thanks to all the people and partners that have supported our athletes over the last few years. We have come a long way since we crowdfunded to send a team to the Senior Europeans in 2017, and we continue to be so grateful to everyone who has supported the journey.
We have the greatest of respect for the organising committee, the city of Tokyo and the people of Japan for making these incredible Games happen.”
Marcus returns home to spend time with his family in the UK and quarantine as required by travel guidance. “Right now I’m going to go back to the UK after this and will just spend some time with my family. I haven’t really spent time with them and my friends – and just decompress a little bit. I need to do that.”
For all media related enquiries please contact Sophie DeVooght [email protected]
Please note BF operate during UK time zones.
Image credit: Elsa/Getty Images
About Marcus Mepstead
London-born Mepstead went into the Games ranked number one for men’s foil in the UK and 14th in the world. He cemented his credentials as a world class fencer at the 2019 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary where he won individual silver, beating the world number one in the first round before overcoming top fighters from Czech Republic, Russia, Poland, and Korea on the way to the final.
His performances throughout a qualification period interrupted by the pandemic culminated in a successful journey, including a further silver medal in Mexico City and an 11th place result in Turin, to finish as the number one athlete in the European Qualification Zone.
Sign up to receive regular highlights from the exciting world of fencing - celebrating the best of our unique and inspiring community