LONDON 2012: Williams confirmed on British Olympic fencing team
SOPHIE Williams has been confirmed on Great Britain's Olympic fencing team after a hotly-disputed and headline making selection process.
SELECTED: Sophie Williams will be one of two British women sabre fencers at the London 2012 Olympics (Nathan Gallagher)
Williams is Britain's fourth ranked sabre fencer but has been selected along with Louise Bond-Williams ahead of British number one and two Jo Hutchison and Chrystall Nicholl.
Hutchison and Nicholl took their case to independent arbitrators, citing their superior results in recent competitions and world rankings, but the British Olympic Association confirmed the disputed nominations today.
British Fencing claim the decision to pick Williams, 21, was not just based on current form but her future potential, although Bond-Williams, a 30-year old who made her Olympic debut in Athens, is four years older than both Hutchison and Nicholl.
The national governing body also insist that Jon Salfield, Williams's club coach, had no conflict of interest despite the fact he is also the sabre coach for the national set-up.
In a statement they claimed he presented the relevant information about the candidates, declared his interest and left the selection meeting.
British Fencing have also denied reports that Williams's father, Jon, is a major financial backer of the sport, insisting his only contribution is an annual £40 membership fee.
Meanwhile, Richard Kruse will compete at his third Olympics after qualifying through his world ranking - one of only two fencers to book their place without relying on a host nation invite.
He'll be joined by James Davis, 20, in the men's foil while James Honeybone, 21, will contest the men's sabre.
Natalia Sheppard, who sealed her spot through the European qualifying event, will be Team GB's entry in the women's foil while eleven-time British champion Corinna Lawrence, still just 21, competes in the women's epee.
The seven fencers named today will be joined by three more foil fencers, one man and two women, to enable Great Britain to compete in team competitions.
“We've got a great blend of experience and youth in the team," said British Fencing's performance director Alex Newton.
“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.”
© Sportsbeat 2012