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British Fencing targets move to London Olympic Park

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Richard Kruse's guide to fencing

By Ollie Williams

British Fencing wants to establish a national training base inside London's Olympic Park after the 2012 Games.

Top fencers demanding improved training facilities have been told moving to the venue is an aspiration, but a short-term solution is also being sought.

"Our main problem is we really need a proper training infrastructure," men's foil star Richard Kruse told BBC Sport.

British Fencing's Piers Martin said: "Moving to the Olympic Park won't help Richard. We need a short-term venue."

He added: "We had a review last week at which we heard that the athletes want to try to find a centre immediately. We're working to get that done as soon as possible.

"There are two venues we need: one is short-term, to help our athletes in the build-up to 2012.

"But I also aspire to a national centre and having that in the Olympic Park would be fantastic."

The British men's foil team - considered GB's best chance of a fencing medal at the London Olympics - conduct the majority of their training at the Lansdowne Club in central London.

Olympic Park on 19 January, 2011
British Fencing has designs on moving to the Olympic Park

They have also arranged to spend one week per month working alongside Britain's modern pentathletes in Bath.

"We have an agreement with the Lansdowne Club and it's great to have the use of their facilities rent-free, but it's not an Olympic training ground," said Kruse, 27, who is expected to lead British Fencing's medal bid in 2012.

"It has three fencing pistes, none of which are full length. It's hard to get the medals without the proper training facilities.

"Some of our fencers have said: 'I'm not going to train here, I'm going to go and train with the German squad'. But because we're oriented around the team, we need to train together."

Martin, British Fencing's chief executive, added: "It's an absolute aspiration to have a national centre and it's something we're working very hard on.

"It became evident we needed something immediate, whereas my plans had always been for something post-2012 and I was quite relaxed about it.

"Now there's a sense of urgency to get somewhere for the build-up to 2012.

"The Olympic Park would be awesome - it would leave a legacy in more ways than one. But we need to make sure that Richard, [GB foil team-mate] Laurence Halsted and those who are going to be successful in 2012 have the best possible facility as soon as possible, so it's a priority for me."

The men's foil team are the priority for us and I'm clear that we'd want to work around where they train

Piers Martin
Chief executive, British Fencing

The future of several buildings on the Olympic Park site, including the media centre, remains undetermined, and room exists for British Fencing to take up residence if the right arrangement - and the finance - can be found.

Last month the sport announced a £1m sponsorship cash injection, spread over five years, but this money is expected to fund fencers on British Fencing's performance and development programmes directly.

Martin told BBC Sport more than one interim training venue may be established before the Games, to cater for the squad's needs.

"The men's foil team are the priority for us and I'm clear that we'd want to work around where they train," he said.

"It might not be in one place - they're based in London but it doesn't have to be in London.

"I hope, in six months' time, they'll have at least one training venue. It's all happening very quickly, this is one of our key priorities."

Britain has not won an Olympic fencing medal since the Tokyo Games of 1964, at which Bill Hoskyns took silver in the men's individual epee contest.

GB's only Olympic fencing gold medal was won by Gillian Sheen in the women's individual foil event at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

606: DEBATE

Kruse goes into the 2011 season ranked 10th in the world in the men's individual foil, with the British men's foil team ninth.

Three years ago, Kruse was knocked out of the Beijing Olympics by German then-world champion Peter Joppich in the second round, having reached the last eight at the Athens Games four years earlier.

British Fencing parted company with its performance director, Graham Watts, in December.

He is set to be replaced by a group reporting to a new performance manager in the coming weeks.

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Behind the scenes at the Lansdowne Club, with GB's Laurence Halsted



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see also
Fencers get 1m sponsorship boost
18 Jan 11 |  Fencing
British Fencing begins reshuffle
21 Dec 10 |  Fencing
British foil team eighth in Paris
11 Nov 10 |  Fencing
GB fencers foiled at Paris Worlds
07 Nov 10 |  Fencing
GB fencers win Euro team bronze
22 Jul 10 |  Fencing
Guide to fencing
12 Oct 05 |  Fencing


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