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Page last updated at 16:54 GMT, Sunday, 7 November 2010

GB's male foil fencers crash out of World Championships

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.

Chrystall Nicoll

British fencers fail to shine on grand stage

By Ollie Williams
BBC Sport in Paris

Britain's male foil fencers tumbled out of the World Fencing Championships in Paris, all but ruining the team's medal chances at this year's event.

Laurence Halsted's 12-11 defeat by Israeli world number 38 Maor Hatoel followed earlier losses for Jamie Kenber and Rhys Melia.

Ed Jefferies, the other team member, withdrew ill, while none of GB's four female foil fencers progressed far.

The sole remaining medal hope rests with Thursday's men's foil team event.

Sunday's results were a disappointment for British Fencing, which has focused funding and attention on the men's foil team in the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics - foil being one of fencing's three disciplines, alongside epee and sabre.

The absence of world number four and Beijing Olympian Richard Kruse with a foot injury was one reason for their under-performance.

Our big problem in Britain is we haven't got much strength in depth

GB performance director Graham Watts

However, world number 24 Halsted had been expected to lead the likes of Jefferies towards the latter stages of the competition.

As he assumed Kruse's mantle as the top British foil fencer inside the imposing Grand Palais venue, the 26-year-old began in strong fashion against Hatoel.

But the Israeli gained momentum and won the fight in the priority minute - fencing's term for a 60-second period added to the end of a contest if the fencers' scores finish level, comparable to football's golden goal.

"It was devastating. It's so tough to take any defeat and especially when you lose by one hit," Halsted told BBC Sport.

"I thought I could get a medal here, I knew I could. That's why it's so difficult to take.

"I'm pretty sure I could have gone a lot further than that. But I'm sitting here with a top-64, which seems like a long way off."

Earlier, Kenber lost 15-10 to American Gerek Meinhardt, while 20-year-old Melia was defeated 15-4 by Japan's Yuki Ota on his World Championship debut.

Jefferies had been due to fight France's Erwan Le Pechoux but pulled out, claiming a burger eaten the night before had given him food poisoning.

"I would have expected at least a last 16 or a last eight from Laurence Halsted, so that was disappointing," admitted British performance director Graham Watts.

"We were expecting more of our men's foilists but most of the damage was done off the piste, Richard Kruse breaking his foot and Ed Jefferies too ill to fence.

"Our big problem in Britain is we haven't got much strength in depth. Richard Kruse is our only world-class fencer and we're feeling his absence here.

"But there are other fencers coming through who will be able to challenge at top-eight, top-four level. It won't just be about Richard by London 2012."

In the women's foil event, Martina Emanuel - who lives and trains in Italy - produced Britain's lone victory of the day, beating Germany's Martina Zacke before coming undone in a battling 15-12 defeat by another German, Katja Waechter, in the last 32.

Hannah Bryars lost 15-4 to top seed Nam Hyun-Hee of South Korea, while Natalia Sheppard was defeated 12-8 by German Sandra Bingenheimer.

On Saturday, the British men's and women's sabre teams had suffered similarly disappointing results.

Jo Hutchison and Chrystall Nicoll were both beaten 15-14 in narrow clashes in the women's last 32, while Alex O'Connell was knocked out in the last 64 of the men's event.

The World Fencing continues for six more days, with individual epee finals on Monday and team finals from Tuesday to Saturday.

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see also
GB fencers target world success
05 Nov 10 |  Fencing
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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