Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Men’s Individual Foil – London 2012 Olympics

And still no GB fencer makes it pass the Last 32.
 Husayn Rosowsky didn’t make it past the first round being KO by Mohamed Samandi from Tunisa.

Richard Kruse, ranked 15 in the world had a bye to the Last 32 but was easily dispatched by Artur Akhmatkhuzin from Russia with the score a disappointing 15-5. Kruse was outfenced from the start, and seemed to lack distance control by getting too close to his opponent. At the age of 29 this may have been his last chance at a medal at the Olympics.

James Davis was also beaten in the Last 32 but fenced very well against the 5 times world champion Peter Joppich or Germany, the 15-10 score. 21 year old Davis is 9 years younger than Joppich so has a promising future.

All three foilists are back on Sunday for the team event.

The Men’s Foil Gold medal went to Sheng Lei from China who made a great comeback to beat Alaaeldin Abouelkassem from Egypt with a thrilling 15-14 score.

The Bronze went to the bizarre Byungchul Choi of Korea who dived around the piste causing havoc and several red cards and beat Andrea Baldini of Italy 15-14

Photos are of Choi's antics!

Fencing medals so far:
Italy 1 Gold 2 Silver 1 Bronze
China 1 Gold 1 Bronze
Ukraine 1 Gold
Hungary 1 Gold
Germany 1 Silver
Egypt 1 Silver

Korea 1 Bronze
Russia 1 Bronze

Monday, 30 July 2012

Harry Peck reports on the Olympic Games Women's Epee event

Harry Peck, British No.1 Cadet Epeeist was a spectator at the Women’s Epee event at ExCeL and has kindly written his account of the days fencing. Harry has added a lot of extra stuff missing from my account of the day already posted.
Thanks Harry:

“Today was women’s individual epee, with 22 year old Corinna Lawrence representing GBR.
Corinna is GB’s only epeeist selected for 2012. As the 43rd top ranking fencer in the world – Corinna did not get an automatic place into the Olympics – only the top 16 win that right. She also just missed qualifying through the zonals (an extra qualification process for countries without a qualifying fencer, which allows an additional few fencers per continent into the competition). Corinna in fact qualified using one of the “host nation” wild card place – awarded by British Fencing. This was a wonderful extra opportunity for Corinna to build experience (and we all hope to see her use it to good effect in 2016 at Rio) but her resultant low ranking at the beginning of the event left her with a difficult days fencing.
The problem is that there is no pool in the Olympics –the format is just direct elimination – so if you have a low ranking going into the competition you cannot improve your position by performing well in the pools, and you will meet the best fencers very early on in the competition, and if you lose against them you're out.
The competition started with an incomplete sixty four – ten of the lower ranked fencers competing to get into the last 32. Four pairs fenced first leaving just Corinna and her Chilean opponent to fence alone, in front of 8,000 mainly GB supporters, all willing her to win.
Scary stuff!
With all the vocal support and pressure it is perhaps not surprising that Corinna was behind after the first session (three minutes). Perhaps her coach advised her to be brave in the first break, because she fenced much more aggressively in the second session. Some amazing fleches took her ahead, and she won 15 12, qualifying for the last thirty two.
Inevitably she then faced fourth seed, Simona Gherman. Corinna initially went ahead, but her opponent caught up and built a two point lead. This would perhaps have been dealable with but Corinna was slow then to attack, her opponent sat back, and Corinna was caught by the new non-combativity rule, with the match moving automatically into the last period, without a break.
We all cheered our support, at the top of our voices, Corinna pulled off more beautiful fleches but was ultimately overpowered by her opponent.
Corrina lost well. She saluted her opponent, and ref and then she turned to the audience and saluted us. The British audience rose as one to their feet. It was a brave effort, honestly lost, and the exhausted crowd expressed their admiration and hid their disappointment.
The competition was won by the Ukraine Yana Shemyakina, with Britta Heidemann second and Yujie Sun in third.
Watching others fencing was new to me, and I went home emotionally exhausted.
Nice try Corinna! I look forward to seeing you win through in Rio!
Postscript: the days fencing ended on controversy with German Britta Heidemann and Korean Lam Shin in the semi final. The pair were on even points after the final period, went into an extra minute, and then all the way down to one second.
Now here's the strange bit.
The German kept on attacking, and the doubles kept on coming. Three of them in one second. The clock went to zero when the fencers were not fencing, got reset back to one second. The referees then said there was a yellow card, and the timing was moved back to one second. Then the German scored and won. The ref took advice, found in favour of the German. The Korean refused to leave the piste for an hour while the Korean coaches lodged a written appeal. The appeal failed. The Korean coaches still told Lam to stay on the piste. Eventually she was guided off the piste by an official determined that she would not be given a black card. Lam Shin was then forced to compete for the bronze medal a few minutes later. She fought magnificently – and if this had been a film she would have won. Sadly this was real life fencing, and she lost and got nothing, except the admiration of all fencers who could not believe how she managed to hold everything together against all odds.”

Women's Individual Epee - London 2012 Olympics

After three days a GB fencer finally beats someone!
Corinna Lawrence who is 22 years old and trains at London Thames Fencing Club is ranked 43rd in the world, faced Caterin Bravo Aranguiz from Chile in the incomplete last 64 (first round) and won 15-12.

When Corinna returned to fence in the Last 32 the whole arena was shaking as the crowd cheered her to the piste. However she faced Simona Gherman from Romania who is the European Champion and 4th ranked fencer in the world. Corinna, who is a part time fencer, probably knew the outcome of this match before it started.

She was down 2-0 after a renewed attack and a counter attack but then launched a great fleche, then a double and then a parry riposte to level the score 3-3. After some messy close quarter hits the score ended at 7-3 then Corinna decided to change tactics and counterattack into Ghorman’s advance to score the next hit. Corinna then waited for another attack from her opponent which never happened, forcing the referee to call non-combativity due to lack of action.

Gherman then applied the pressure and although Corinna made some good hits she lost 15-9 to the stronger fencer.

Unfortunately the day will be remembered for the one and a half hour sit in by Lam Shin of Korea after being denied a place in the final when the clock was reset to one second when she and her coach thought time had run out allowing Britta Heidemann of Germany to score the winning hit. Officials say that the clock was reset after a yellow card was issued, others say there is a delay in the process where the referee calls ‘play’ and a timekeeper then hits the button to start play.

 Shin faced Sun Yujie from China for the Bronze medal match and although executing some great foot hits and a perfect duck stop hit the score ended 15-11 for Yujie.

The final was between Britta Heidemann and Yana Shemyakina from Ukraine. Both fencers forced non-combativity and allowed the bout to be drawn before extra time and the final winning hit came from Shemyakina.

 So Shemyakina wins Gold, Heidemann wins Silver and Yujie wins bronze.

 All this means we haven’t seen a GB fencer progress past the Last 32, but we will be keenly watching Richard Kruse in Tuesdays Men’s individual foil event to see if he can improve our performance, along with James Davis and Husayn Rosowsky.

 Medal Table so far:

Italy: 1 Gold 2 Silver 1 Bronze
Ukraine 1 Gold
Hungary 1 Gold
Germany 1 Silver
Russia 1 Bronze
China 1 Bronze

Photo is from the Bronze medal match

An armourers life – Steve Hyman

Steve Hyman, who is Eltham College’s armourer, is keeping a brief diary of his time at the Olympic Games. All armourers that have been to Eltham College to help our team and to run courses have been selected as armourers for the Games; Adrian Mason who ran our armoury during our Summer 2010 camp, Peter Huggins who has run our armoury courses and examined our referees course, and Janet Huggins who has been the armourer at the Kent Championships that we host.

Here is Steve’s diary so far, don’t know what happened to Games Day 2, perhaps that was the wild party day that we all know the armourers go to.

Wednesday 25 July - Having been fortunate to be selected as an armourer for the 2012 Olympic Games my first day consisted of helping to build Weapons Control and to start testing some of the 1000 foil, épée and mask wires.

Thursday 26 July - Was spent testing the women's foil kit checking for advertising on clothing and testing weapons to destruction.
Friday 27 July - The morning was spent in the call rooms testing weapons for a pre competition épée trial followed by a trip to the Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony which exceeded all expectations.

Olympic Games Day 1 - Having got back at 2am from the opening ceremony, we were back on duty at 07:30am! The day started in the call room for the early rounds of Women's Foil checking foils for weight and both foils and body-wires for resistance. This involved wrestling weapons from the coloured bags closely guarded by the volunteer minders and then asking the foilists to allow us to test their wires while they were still attached to their bodies.
Later in the afternoon back in the weapons control room there were sabre checks to be done for the men's sabre the following day

Olympic Games Day 3 - A day in weapons control testing epees. Uneventful until we rejected the blades as they were too stiff at which point we upset the Koreans, Tunisians, French, Chinese, Japanese and needless to say the GBR squad.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Men's Individual Sabre - London 2012 Olympics

After a predictable first days fencing in women’s Foil yesterday with the top four seeds all going through to the semi-finals, the men’s individual sabre on day two was full of upsets with top seeds going out early. The semi-final fencers were ranked sixth, eighth, ninth and fourteenth!

But at the start of the day James Honeybone from Truro,  GB’s only competitor in Men’s Sabre entered the field of play to a rapturous applause from the audience  but his Olympic experience was cut short by being outclassed in the Last 64 by Valery Pryiemka of Belarus who quickly worked out Honeybone’s tactics and won 15-9. Pryiemka scored three identical points using a stop hit to wrist on Honeybone’s attack, the same tactic used by our Ben Dines at the British Youth Championships! But at the young age of 21 years old Honeybone can look forward to competing in the next three Olympic Games providing he qualifies in his own right.
Without a GB fencer most of the audience turned their attention to USA and vocally supported James Williams, Daryl Homer and Tim Moorehouse who all fenced well. Homer and Moorehouse reached the quarter-finals before being knocked out.
The final, between Aron Szilagyi from Hungary and Diego Occhiuzzi from Italy was won by the Hungarian 15-8 and the Bronze went to Nikolay Kovalev from the Russian Federation. Szilagyi was the crowds favourite to win just to stop Italy winning another Gold!
At the time of publishing the days fencing can be found here.
Medal Table so far:
Italy: 1 Gold 2 Silver 1 Bronze
Hungary 1 Gold
Russian Federation 1 Bronze

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Womens Individual Foil - London 2012 Olympics

The ExCel Centre has been transformed for the 2012 Olympic Games and the vast complex is hosting fencing, wrestling, taekwondo, table tennis and judo. All the halls look very impressive with their lighting rigs, sound systems and of course all the Olympic ‘bling’.
Fencing has the second largest seating capacity with 8,000 seats (boxing has 10,000).
Today, Saturday 28th July saw the first fencing event – the Women’s individual foil competition.
Team GB had 3 fencers competing today but they didn’t get the results they were hoping for.
Natalia Sheppard unfortunately had to knock out fellow GB teammate Sophie Troiano in the incomplete Last 64 by 12 hits to 9. It was a shame they had to meet so early, but at least a GB fencer was guaranteed a place in the Last 32. However Natalia was then knocked out by Corinne Maitrejean from France 11-5 in the Last 32.
Anna Bentley faced Monica Peterson from Canada in the Last 64 but was agonising close to victory with the score 9-9 going into overtime. The Canadian scored the vital hit to win the bout.
After the Last 16 and Quarterfinals the Semi-finals were composed of 3 Italian fencers and 1 from the Republic of Korea, proving that the Italians still dominate our sport.
The brilliant 5 times Olympic Gold medallist and a firm crowd favourite, Valentina Vezzali from Italy, had a close match in the Quarterfinals by only beating Ines Boubaki of Tunisia 8-7. Boubake was understandably distraught with the defeat, but Vazzali, at the age of 38, had to finally settle for Bronze. At least she has another attempt at Gold in the team event.
The final, between Elisa Di Francisca and Arianna Errigo, both Italians, was a nail biting match ending in a 12-11 victory for Di Francisca.
So, Gold to Di Francisca of Italy, Silver to Errigo of Italy, and Bronze to Vezzali of Italy.
Overall it was a good days fencing, lots of emotions, only a few technical issues and, I think only one refereeing problem.
Tomorrow, Sunday, is the Men’s Individual Sabre. James Honeybone is our only athlete competing and it’s going to be a great experience for him.
Photo is of the 2012 Olympic Gold Medal winner for Womens Foil, Elisa Di Francisca

Friday, 27 July 2012

The Olympic Games are here!

The 2012 Olympic Games are finally here and we will be posting each evening on the day’s events from the point of view of the fencing organisers, volunteers, armourers and perhaps the athletes themselves.

Although as a nation we have an “It will be alright on the night” attitude and we have already flown the wrong flag, and we might play the wrong national anthem, we may get athletes names mixed up, and we may not run to schedule all the time, I’m sure this will be a great games and lets hope we win some medals across the sports.

For me the best part has already happened; Elliott Grover carrying the Olympic Torch will be a memory I will never forget. Although we have already covered the occasion from a spectators point of view, Ells has sent his account whilst on holiday, and this will be the final story we post before the games begin.

Well done Ells, we are all so very proud of you.

My Torch Bearing Experience by Elliott Grover

“On July 18th 2012 I was given the opportunity to do something that I am certain I'll remember by for the rest of my life.

Nominated by my coach Tim O'Conor to carry the Olympic Torch on its way through Ashford, this great honor I was given was not due to my efforts alone, but by the strength and co-ordination of my fencing team and the guiding hand of its Head Coach.

Arriving at the meeting point I got the first opportunity to meet the other Torchbearers where we exchanged our stories along with our nervous jokes about being the first one to fall over and thereby be cemented in the history of the London 2012 Olympics.

I was particularly overawed by members of my group who were past Olympians as well as currently coaching in their sport.

I was given the task of doing a double-shift which I thought was brilliant, having the opportunity to perform this honor not once but twice.

The time had come for us to board the bus where we were given the first sighting of  our Olympic Torches. I was amazed at the camaraderie of our group as we waved at the crowds as well as cheering our members off the bus to start their run.

My run began just as we entered Ashford, the sheer size of the crowd astounded me and as soon as I stepped of the bus I was greeted by crowds of people cheering, those closest were taking pictures and a young mother even asked if she could take a picture with her baby.

Next Sponsors buses from Coca-Cola and Samsung went past shouting my name out of a megaphone and I couldn't stop smiling, once the flame was lit I started running my stint, and seeing my friends and family on my right as I started really made my day, especially my friends who made the journey up to Ashford to see me.

I was astounded by the huge numbers of crowds cheering me on as I travelled past schools and families. Once completed I gave the flame on to an equaling beaming torchbearer before getting back onto the bus.

They gave me my torch there and then and at the end I was exhausted but so happy.”

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Katie Dolans role for the 2012 Olympics

For the 2012 Olympics I am the Workforce Group Leader and my job is to assign and roster the 550 volunteers involved in fencing and wheelchair fencing.
I am the first point of contact for volunteers.

At games time I also get to shadow the fencing manager working with the FIE, DT and the International and National technical officials.

My best experience so far is driving the Pink BMW - it’s amazing!! and meeting Michael Johnson and Boris Johnson (they are not related!!).

I'm really looking forward to seeing the world’s best fencers in action, making lots of new friends and watching a British athlete(s) winning a medal.

(Pictured is Katie coaching EC fencers during one of our summer courses.)

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Elliott Grover carries the Olympic Torch

On Wednesday the 18th of July Elliott Grover ran with the Olympic torch through Ashford after being nominated by Tim for his commitment to fencing.
Elliott was very lucky because they hadn’t asked anyone to run in the slot before him so he was asked to do a double stint!

There was a huge crowd waiting for him as soon as he got off the bus filled with family, friends and people he didn’t even know who had turned up to support him.
He got the prestigious opportunity of lighting the torch. After the sponsor vehicles had set off he started running at a good pace, the security guards were struggling to keep up!
There was even more support for him down the road with local schools and many other people lining the road to watch him. He ran holding the torch and waving constantly.
All too quickly he had finished his 600m’s of glory and was soon handing the torch over to the next runner and climbing aboard the coach.

Overall he was very lucky to be given such an amazing opportunity and he took it in his stride. A big thank you to everyone who organised that amazing day and to Tim for nominating Elliott.

Story by Ed Blackman.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Jon's Gamesmaker story

The Olympic Games Test Event was a mini Olympic Games. For the event I started off working with athlete services and by the end of the Test event I was working on the "Field of Play" with the equipment staff. For the test event my main responsibility was to ensure the Podium and pistes were ready for the competitors. I got to meet all the Mens Foil teams and most of the Paralympic fencers. My day started at around 0700 and ended at around lunch time, or started at 1300 and went on until 2100.

 Since the Test event I have got my kit - a couple of t-shirts, trousers, a watch, socks, an umbrella (I work inside a sports hall!!), a coat, a kit bag, a water bottle (and when they give it to you they tell you: "no fizzy drinks!"), and a pair of grey trainers. This was the best bit!

For the Olympic games I will be watching the fencers I work with when they are competing and working as Sports Equipment Team Member. This is fairly straightforward for the Olympic games, as I work in a team of about 6 ensuring the Field of Play (the fencing arena) is suitable to fence on and looks good for TV.

 At the Paralympics I am the Sports Equipment Team Leader, responsible for the team of 6. This time there will be quite a lot of work to be done, as my team and I must ensure the disabled fencers are set up before and during fencing, and that all equipment falls under the regulations of the FIE and Olympic Organisation. Everyone who is a team leader (or group leader - see Katie's write up!) must attend leadership training. This is held at...wait for it...The University of McDonalds!!! Unfortunately they did not teach me how to cook a big mac meal, but I did learn about the values of the Olympics

- Respect, Excellence, Friendship, Courage, Determination, Equality and Inspiration. The experience has been excellent so far and I'm already inspired, as many of you are about the Olympics and am sure the Legacy will be noticeable in many years to come - especially if Fencing Team GB win a medal!

Jon Rhodes

Monday, 23 July 2012

Five days to go!

With just five days to go before the Olympic Games officially start we will be running an Olympic story each day till then, then from Saturday a report each evening on the day’s fencing.

Today’s story is an interview with James Honeybone by Jon Rhodes.

James is a 21year old Sabreur fencer from Truro.

How are you feeling about the Olympics?
“I’m excited to be here in London and my preparations for the Olympics are going well and to plan. I am currently sparring with two excellent Hungarian Fencers (two brothers) and my coach has set us various scenarios to train effectively. I fence for a few hours in the morning, complete my conditioning in the afternoons and sometimes fence again in the evenings. It’s tough but I enjoy it and my hard work and persistence has paid off.”

Who’s helped you to be where you are?
“Since I started fencing at 9 years of age I have had excellent support from my Mum and my coach; Jon Salfield. Jon has been my coach since my very first fencing session and has supported me every step of the way. Of course my teammates at Truro have been great too in preparing me for the games and the support staff are invaluable"

Do you think you will medal?
“I know I can achieve a medal place otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I have beaten guys in the top 10 in the world this season, and know if I fence my best, there is no one I can't beat"

Some questions EC fencers have asked visiting fencers in the past:

If you’re the best in the UK at fencing, why don’t you coach your coach? - Wombat (this is his nickname!) aged 8.
“Good question Wombat! And even cooler name! Because my coach is the best coach, not the best fencer"

What’s the most important factor in becoming an Olympic fencer? - Ben aged 12.
“Lots and lots and lots of hard work! You can be the most talented fencer on the planet, but if everyone else from other countries are working harder, then you just won't get there! And footwork!"

What is your favorite breakfast meal? - George aged 11.
“Frosties – they’re great!”

The official interview with James can be found here

Thanks James, and good luck!