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Page last updated at 13:15 GMT, Friday, 5 November 2010

World Fencing: British hopes pinned on men's foil

2010 World Fencing Championships
Venue: Le Grand Palais, Paris Dates: 4-13 November
Coverage: Updates on Twitter from BBC Sport's Ollie Williams in Paris, British Fencing's performance director Graham Watts and the official Twitter account of British Fencing Video reports on BBC Sport website.

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Pirates to podium - can fencing be fun?

By Ollie Williams
BBC Sport in Paris

Britain's four men's foil fencers made it through to the last 64 of their competition as the World Fencing Championships got under way in Paris.

GB's Laurence Halsted was unbeaten in Thursday's preliminaries, but all four women's epee members were knocked out.

Despite injury to Beijing Olympian Richard Kruse, the men's foil squad is considered Britain's best chance of a first medal at this level since 1965.

The individual foil resumes on Sunday, with the team event on 11 November.

The absence of Kruse, the world number four in his event, through a foot injury has dealt a blow to the team's chances of ending their long run without a medal.

The men's foil squad won a team bronze at the European Championships earlier this year, again for the first time since 1965, with the help of Kruse.

OLLIE WILLIAMS BLOG

Halsted, 26, becomes the figurehead of the revamped team, with a world ranking of 22.

Ed Jefferies beat Vladzimir Lyshkovski of Belarus in Thursday's last tie to ensure safe passage for the entire foil squad ahead of Sunday, but Halsted produced six consecutive victories to set the standard.

Jamie Kenber and Rhys Melia made it through alongside Halsted and Jefferies, while Alex O'Connell progressed to the last 64 of the men's sabre event with five wins and one defeat.

O'Connell, now 22, joined Kruse and Martina Emanuel to form Britain's team for the Beijing Olympics two years ago. Only Kruse made any headway at the Games, and even then could only finish 14th.

GB quartet Mary Cohen, Jayne Crook, Corinna Lawrence and Hannah Lawrence were all dumped out of the women's epee event in Paris earlier on Thursday.

Cohen and Hannah Lawrence failed to get past the poule (group) stage, while Crook and Corinna Lawrence fell victim in the opening knockout rounds.

Neil Hutchison was the only other Briton not to progress, narrowly missing out on a place in the last 64 of the men's sabre alongside O'Connell.

Friday will see more British involvement in the preliminary stages of the men's epee, women's sabre and women's foil events, before the finals begin on Saturday.

Chrystall Nicoll, 24 years old and ranked 24th in the world, is Britain's best hope in the women's sabre, while Jonathan Willis is the world number 25 in men's epee.

Aside from Nicoll, Willis and Halsted, none of the 23-strong GB team are ranked in the world top 40 for their events, suggesting any medal hopes lie with those three.

Individual finals run until Monday, followed by team finals from Tuesday until the tournament closes on Saturday, 13 November.



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see also
Richard Kruse's guide to fencing
19 May 09 |  Fencing
Melia excited by Olympic prospect
31 Aug 10 |  Fencing
Guide to fencing
12 Oct 05 |  Fencing


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