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Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 16:51 UK

O'Connell secures lone GB place


Alex O'Connell will be Britain's only fencing competitor at the Beijing Olympics after his strong showing in a zonal sabre qualifying tournament.

The 20-year-old lost in the final in Istanbul to Poland's Marcin Koniusz, but that was enough to secure a place as two Olympic spots were available.

He said: "My long-term goal has always been to win a medal at London 2012 so I am excited to have been selected."

"I'm pleased I've been able to repay the faith that has been shown in me."

British fencing's performance director Graham Watts said: "Alex showed a true warrior's spirit in Istanbul.

"At just 20 years of age, with comparatively little experience at this level, he defeated more experienced opponents, including a nail-biting victory by just one hit, against a very experienced opponent.

"We have always seen him as a major prospect for 2012 but qualifying for Beijing is an early bonus."

There was disappointment at the zonal qualifiers though for Richard Kruse, a quarter-finalist in Athens four years ago and second in the 2006 European championships.

Seen as Britain's best hope for a first Olympic fencing medal since 1964, Kruse missed out by one hit in his foil qualifier in Lisbon after suffering a recent ankle injury.

Female foil hope Elisa Albini also missed out on an Olympic place after finishing fourth in her event.

Meanwhile, Jo Hutchison finished fifth in the women's sabre competition in Istanbul and Jonathan Willis and Elisa Albini came 17th and 21st respectively in the epee tournament in Prague.

see also
Team GB for Beijing
23 Apr 08 |  Team GB

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