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Page last updated at 18:59 GMT, Tuesday, 18 January 2011

British Fencing secures 1m sponsorship deal

Jo Hutchison at World Fencing

Behind the scenes with GB's Jo Hutchison at the World Fencing

By Ollie Williams

British Fencing has secured a £1m sponsorship deal with which to fund full-time training for team members, a national academy and events in Britain.

The cash, from insurers Beazley, represents a 32% increase in funding for the sport, which saw UK Sport decrease its backing two years ago.

British Fencing now hopes to double the number of fencers it can support.

"This will make an enormous difference to the sport in this country," said British Fencing chief Piers Martin.

"Fencing in Britain is an unsung success story.

"With a small amount of funding our top fencers have leapt up the world rankings, winning medals at both individual and team levels.

"However, our constrained finances have meant agonising budget decisions over which athletes and activities we can and can't support."

BBC Sport understands this cash influx, spread over a five-year period, will be used to provide up to 20 elite fencers with the funds necessary to train full-time.

The money will also support a national academy project, staged for the first time in Nottingham last year, boost grassroots fencing funding, and aid the sport's marketing ventures.

British Olympic sports teams and their major sponsors:
Archery Foresters
Athletics Aviva
Canoeing Tesco
Cycling Sky
Fencing Beazley
Rowing Siemens
Sailing Skandia
Swimming British Gas
Triathlon General Electric

This will include helping to finance major events staged on British soil, up to World Cup level.

"We wanted to work with a sport where we could make a difference both at Olympic and Paralympic level, and also at the grassroots level," said Beazley chief executive Andrew Horton.

"One of the interesting things about fencing is how it has taken root in new places that you might not expect - such as Newham in east London, which is now a major producer of top-class fencers - and we are keen to support developments such as this."

Britain's Olympic sports teams are becoming increasingly popular targets for sponsors as the London Games loom large, with Tesco concluding a deal to sponsor the British canoeing squad late in 2010.

British teams in most of the better-known Olympic sports now carry title sponsors, among them General Electric's association with British Triathlon, the longstanding partnership between British Gas and British Swimming, and Aviva's sponsorship of UK Athletics.

British Fencing is in line to receive £2.52m from funding body UK Sport for the current four-year Olympic cycle, making it one of the five least-funded GB teams in summer Olympic sport.

Fencing's funding was reduced by 59% in budget cuts across several Olympic sports in early 2009.

This £1m investment goes a large way to making up that shortfall, with the GB team expected to hit a target of one medal at the London Games.

Richard Kruse won a bronze medal for Britain in the men's individual foil fencing at last year's European Championships, confirming his status as the star of the British squad.

However, with Kruse absent through injury, the remainder of the British team struggled for success at the 2010 World Championships in Paris.

Their biggest test in 2011 will come on home soil, at July's European Championships, to be staged at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

Aside from Kruse, top names in the current British squad include fellow foil fencer Lawrence Halsted and women's sabre fencer Chrystall Nicoll.

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see also
British Fencing begins reshuffle
21 Dec 10 |  Fencing
British foil team eighth in Paris
11 Nov 10 |  Fencing
Behind the scenes at World Fencing
12 Nov 10 |  Fencing
Kruse wins Euro bronze in Leipzig
18 Jul 10 |  Fencing
Visa to sponsor Olympic hopefuls
29 Sep 09 |  Business
The 2012 marketing minefield
16 Aug 05 |  Olympics 2012
Guide to fencing
12 Oct 05 |  Fencing

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