LONDON 2012: Team GB confirm eight strong fencing team for Olympics
EIGHT British fencers will represent home hopes at the London 2012 Olympics, the British Olympic Association have confirmed.
BOOST: British fencers recently received a cash boost from sponsors Beazley, now they've been given eight host nation places for London 2012
Only three fencers were part of Team GB at the Beijing Games but there has been a dramatic recent improvement in British Fencing’s results after many years of under achievement.
In the last three years they have won 13 World Cup medals and claimed four European Championship podium places, including Britain’s first major championships team medal in three decades.
“We thank the BOA for the fantastic news that we’ve secured the host nation places for fencing," said British Fencing Piers Martin.
"It is a great testament to all of our fencers and their support teams who have been producing results across all of the weapons over the past few years.
"With the support we get from public and private funding, the results are now coming at all levels, showing that we also have strength in depth. It is clear that our performance path is on an upward trajectory.
"We can now use this Olympic Games not only for medal success but as a platform for future Games.”
It's 47 years since Great Britain last won a fencing medal at the Olympics, Henry 'Bill' Hoskyns claiming epee silver in Toyko, four years after winning the same colour in the team event.
Foil specialist Richard Kruse, a two-time silver medallist and one-time bronze medallist at the European Championships, is Britain's top ranked fencer but others, including Laurence Halstead and Chrystall Nicholl, are also on the rise.
However, making the transition from success on the European to global stage has not proved easy, with performance director Graham Watts stepping down last year after disappointing results at the World Championships in Paris.
This year's European Championships will be staged in Sheffield where officials are determined to lay down a marker ahead of London 2012.
The men's foil team are considered the best medal chance, although they finished a disappointing eighth at last year's worlds with star man Kruse absent through injury.
"This is great news for all of us," said sabreur Nicholl, who won back-to-back World Cup bronze medals in Germany and Austria last season.
"Our focus is on automatic qualification and this news will not change that. However, it does mean that we will have full teams in some events where we might not have had and that British Fencing have the chance to give Olympic experience to those who may have a medal chance in 2016."