The British Olympic Association (BOA) has today announced the fencing squad that will head to Brazil this summer to represent Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
James Davis, Laurence Halsted and Richard Kruse make up the squad and all three will compete in the individual and men’s team foil events – with Marcus Mepstead named as the team reserve.
All three of the team were present at London 2012, where Team GB finished sixth in the team event, with Rio 2016 set to be a fourth Olympic Games for 32-year-old Kruse.
Since London there Team GB has enjoyed success at an international level with the men’s foil team – which included Kruse – taking the gold medal at the inaugural European Games in Baku in 2015 and the bronze medal at the 2013 European Championships in Zagreb.
The team sealed a quota spot for Rio 2016 back in February when a ninth-placed finish at the World Cup in Bonn ensured that Britain were the highest European world-ranked team outside the top four.
Team GB have a total of nine medals at Olympic level since the first Games in 1896, with the only gold medal coming for Gillian Sheen in the individual foil in Melbourne 1956 and the most recent coming in 1964 for Henry Hoskyns.
The selected fencers are:
James Davis (Men’s individual and team foil)
Laurence Halsted (Men’s individual and team foil)
Richard Kruse (Men’s individual and team foil)
Marcus Mepstead (Men’s team foil)
Mark England, Team GB’s Chef de Mission for Rio 2016, said:
“I’m delighted to be able to welcome four familiar faces back into the Team GB fold and I am excited to see what they can do in Rio de Janeiro.
“They have done brilliantly to ensure that Team GB have representation in fencing at the Games.
“They have won medals at European level and have Olympic Games experience and that pedigree will be hugely beneficial to members of Team GB from any sport.”
Alex Newton, Team GB Fencing Team Leader said:
“It’s fantastic to be able to announce the team because this is the first time that we have qualified a team. We wanted to be here and targeting a medal in Rio and now that has become more of a probability than a possibility.
“There’s a chance for a medal in the individual and the team so we feel really confident heading into Rio. It’s Richard’s fourth Olympics, James and Richard’s second and Marcus’ first – though Marcus went to the European Games – so they all have experience of a Games.
“The experience that they all have is really important. Three of the team have been to the Olympics and I think that could prove hugely important.
“It’s a huge opportunity now. They are there by right and given the field and where they are within that, there is a real medal chance.”
Laurence Halsted said:
“I was selected for London but this is different because we qualified by right this time and that feels significant because we did it ourselves.
“It feels like the culmination of a ten year project to find a team that is strong enough to compete at this level and in the last year we have come on so much. To get the reward for the work we have done over those years is great but there is more to do.
“This team has got two senior guys and two younger guys and we have been pushing along at this level for a long time and we have hit our stride and now we have a team of four world class fencers so we just need to tweak it to make sure it goes right on the day.”
Richard Kruse said:
“We had a very tight season to qualify and it came down to the wire and we managed to do it. Now we are preparing and to make the team is great.
“We’ve qualified a team which was unheard of in the past so it bodes well for where we are at as a nation and I am happy with where the men’s foil is heading.
“It’s the pinnacle of the sport so to be selected and be able to go out there for my fourth Games is going to be brilliant.”
James Davis said:
“It’s fantastic to be able to represent Team GB, we have worked so hard as a team to be here. We all get on well and we have put the work in and that has shown in qualification.
“To be there by right and to qualify a team is brilliant. We know we are all good individually but to qualify as a team is incredible. We have all come together and we have the experience to do well. We have beaten some of the top teams in the world so we know we can be there.
“Just by qualifying and beating the best teams we know that we have a chance at the Olympics. I’m not setting any goals or expectations. I know I am good enough so I am just focusing on that first touch.”
Marcus Mepstead said:
“This will be my first Olympic Games so I’m incredibly excited to be going out to Rio. It’s a huge achievement for me and the team.
“We have been really strong this season and for me this moment has been a lifetime in the making. I’ve done this sport all my life so I’m so proud to have made these Olympic Games. I think for the sport it’s important that we are there because we want to help it grow and we want to be competing against the best in the world.
“The European zone is one of the strongest so to qualify through that shows that we will be contenders and I think this is the best team that we have ever had.”