Wednesday, 15 August 2012

London 2012 Olympics – Football Training Ground

Part of Eltham College’s grounds have been used as one of the Olympic football training venues, and was used by both finalists Brazil and Mexico amongst several other teams, including women’s Team GB.

A day after the final five fencers had the opportunity to play on the pitch having a friendly match with the LOCOG staff and security staff based at the ground.

Report is by James Marsden:

“Well, if someone had a couple of days ago, told me that I would be playing football on the Olympic football training pitch where a GB team played, I would have laughed. After all, I’m a fencer, not a footballer!
After a relaxing Sunday fencing, at 1.30 five of us trudged up there in a motley assortment of kit. When we reached there we were amazed at how new the pitch looked, it was so well groomed that when you walked on it you left footprints in the grass!

After a couple of photos with the Olympic banners we managed to play a half decent game of football, including many misses. After half the match the score was 6-2 to the opposing team but our side managed to drag the score back to six all with one minute left.
During that minute, absolutely nothing happened.

Then we went into the penalty shoot-outs.
By now the grass was definitely not pristine, and this was only half the pitch we were playing on. Anyway after five shots per side, we again were drawing, so it went into sudden death, and we suddenly lost!
Still, we took a few more photos with the building, the goals, the flags and a few action poses, then we left the ball and started to walk back.

All in all it was a very enjoyable afternoon and I also quite enjoyed the fact that they had a seemingly endless supply of free Coca Cola inside!”

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Men’s Team Foil – London 2012 Olympics

Team GB were – James Davis, Richard Kruse, Husayn Rosowsky and Lawrence Halstead.

GB beat Egypt 45-33 and France 45-29 but lost to Italy 40-45 and Russia 35-45 and ended 5th out of 6. Our fencers fought aggressively and well against strong opposition, a good crowd pleaser to end the Olympics.

Report by Jordan Ratcliffe who went to the evening fencing, after GB had finished:

The ExCel Centre made a nice venue due to its vast size and the cheerful volunteers acting as guides made it just that little bit more special and put us in an excited mood before the fencing even started.

There was a welcome abundance of food before and after the fencing however McDonalds was mysteriously absent which meant nobody won the debate on how much more expensive the food would be than normal.

The audience was let into the arena well in advance of the fencing which initially struck me as a bad idea because it would give plenty of time for everyone's excitement to drop. It was a very pleasant surprise to discover the Duke of Edinburgh's regiment's band was playing popular tunes such as the themes to Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean. When they departed to applause matching the level given to the fencers themselves we were again treated to a display by the London Ballet. Although I found this slightly boring, it did impressed me that they had developed a routine specially for the Olympic fencing and as you would expect their performance was flawlessly synchronised and all involved had remarkable agility.

The first fight we saw pitted Germany against the USA and would decide who would be on the podium in 3rd place and who would miss out in 4th. Germany got off to a good start with a series of excellent flick hits against a comparatively static American team, most of which were scored by a fencer named only as Bachmann. Approximately halfway through the match Germany had very nearly twice as many points but disaster seemingly struck when the German team's flagship player Bachmann tripped off the piste and injured himself so badly he was forced to forfeit. As you would imagine the German team fenced slightly more defensively now but thanks to their fallen hero they slowly but surely picked up the points despite the American team closing in slightly towards the end. The final score was 45-27 to Germany and was definitely an entertaining match to watch and although it may seem like the outcome was inevitable from the word go the audience was on the edge of their seats as an American comeback never seemed far away and the injured German added that extra variable that made the result that much more uncertain. What made this match particularly enjoyable for me was first of all the chants of "USA! USA! USA!" and the slightly unexpected "Deutschland! Deutschland!" were few and far between and towards the end of the game even some of the German fans started cheering on the Americans.

The second and final fight was between Japan and Italy and would decide which country had the best fencers in the world and who would return home with 'only' silver. Italy was tipped to win given their streak of medals in the days prior. However as I said to myself at the time, the Japanese team didn't get to the finals by chance and they put up a spectacular fight. The entire match was tit for tat with Japan trailing by a mere one or two points at all times, giving the Italians no room for mistakes or complacency. As an example, the score after the third bout was 15-13 to Italy, keeping both the Italians and the audience on the edge for the full hour and a half. In fact Japan came very close, matching Italy's score twice in the sixth bout before actually getting one point ahead of them before falling back again until the Japanese team matched the scores again at 35. Unfortunately toward the very end of the fight the Japanese team slowed down slightly, perhaps due to exhaustion as both teams had been highly energetic throughout, making the final score 45-39 to Italy.

Medal table total for fencing at 2012 Olympics

Women’s Team Epee - London 2012 Olympics

No GB entry today and no-one to report on the fencing from EC fencing, so the results are:

In the Bronze medal match USA narrowly beat Russia 31-30 and China beat South Korea 39-25 in the final, so at least Shin Lam from Korea went home with a ‘proper’ medal after the one hour dispute in the individual event earlier in the week.

Fencing medals so far:

Italy 2 Gold 2 Silver 2 Bronze
South Korea 2 Gold 1 Silver 3 Bronze
China 2 Gold 1 Bronze
Ukraine 1 Gold 1 Bronze
Hungary 1 Gold
Venezuela 1 Gold
Russia 2 Silver 1 Bronze
Germany 1 Silver
Egypt 1 Silver
Norway 1 Silver
Romania1 Silver
USA 1 Bronze

Sunday, 5 August 2012

An afternoon visit to the Olympic Park by Ben Dines

In the afternoon of Thursday 2nd August we set off for the Olympic park, the transport was easy until we got onto the DLR where crowds of international fans from around the globe. The Dutch supporters were in bright orange.
Immediately off the DLR we were channelled down a pathway towards the park. Every so often you could see glimpses of the park and the large numbers of people who were there. As we walked up towards the Security at the gates you could see the whole Olympic Park which was not how I imagined it would be as it seemed all the venues were squashed together in one line.

After all the kerfuffle about whether it would be a good games or not with everything coming together at the right time, there is no doubt that up close the Olympic Stadium looked amazing just as had been promised.

We saw the tall, weird Orbit which looked better at night than during the day. We saw the University of MacDonald’s but MacDonald’s was not the only food concession - there were “healthy food” options available but funnily enough these did not seem so popular!

We then watched the Track Cycling on the big British Airways sponsored screens – Team GB led by Sir Chris Hoy won Gold in the Team Sprint event.

The crowd in front of the screens were cheering loudly.

 It was a good position to view the other Olympic park venues.

We could see the amazing Velodrome, the awesome Aquatic Centre, the Riverbank Hockey Centre - the stands here were so steep and at the end of the rows the sheer drop could put off anyone from watching- and then the Basketball Arena looking like an oversized tent. The Copperbox which houses the Handball looked like a copper box.

We spent a lot of time in the 2012 Megastore looking for souvenirs for the Fencing and other events. I managed to get a Fencing T-shirt but unbelievably they had sold out of many of the T-shirts and said they had been caught out by how popular they were. In the shop were lots of Olympic merchandise you could buy like the GB cycling kit which costed £80, most of the stock there was this price.

The other impressive thing was the number of volunteers around. They were all really friendly and helpful and singing random songs. In fact everyone was generally in a good mood.

The time in the park went by quickly and we did not do the river walk so missed out on seeing the Royal Barge but, hopefully, we might get a chance to go back before the Games end.

Having experienced the Fencing at the Excel Centre and now having been to the Olympic Park my overall impression of London 2012 is great.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Men’s Team Sabre – London 2012 Olympics

Report by Ed Blackman

The team sabre consisted of 8 teams: Italy, Belarus, Germany, Korea, China, Romania, Russia and the United States of America. Russia were the expected Gold medallists, whilst France (who either did not qualify or did not enter) were the Gold Medallists in Beijing.

The quarter finals which as you can probably guess consisted of four events! Italy v Belarus which was very close at 45-44 to Italy with an amazing comeback by Montano after he started the last fight 36- 40 down and ended up winning it for Italy. The second quarter final was between Korea and Germany which finished 38-45 to Korea. I decided to support Germany after the people in the two rows behind me were Korean fanatics and kept on shouting support for their team so loudly my ears hurt. The other two games were not so interesting after Romania beat China 45-30 and Russia beat the USA 45-33.

After that there was the 5-8th place classifications where Germany beat Belarus 45-40 with Hartung getting an amazing score of 13 -1 against the Belarusian fencer Pryiemka and China beat the USA 45-28.

Then came the quarter finals which were fairly close at 45-37 to Korea against Italy and a very closely fought match between Romania and Russia with Romania just winning 45-43.

Lastly I saw the 5th and 6th placement and the 7th and 8th placement the 7th and 8th placement was won by Belarus 45-35.The 5th and 6th placement match was won by a much stronger German team, 45-30.

The Bronze Medal Match, which unfortunately I didn’t get to see, was won by Italy with a close score of 45-40.

The Gold Medal Match was won by Korea against Romania, 45-28. Overall I thought it was a very interesting day and good fun.

Fencing medals so far:
Italy 2 Gold 2 Silver 2 Bronze
Korea 2 Gold 3 Bronze
China 1 Gold 1 Bronze
Ukraine 1 Gold 1 Bronze
Hungary 1 Gold

Venezuela 1 Gold
Russia 2 Silver 1 Bronze
Germany 1 Silver
Egypt 1 Silver

Norway 1 Silver
Romania1 Silver

Friday, 3 August 2012

Women's Team Foil - London 2012 Olympics

The first fencing team event of the Olympics was going to have a predictable winner after Italy won three out of four available medals in the individual event therefore forming a dream team for this event. The Italians beat Russia 45-31 in the final.

 Team GB; Anna Bentley, Natalia Sheppard and Sophie Troiano, beat Egypt 45-34 with fantastic backing from the audience but then had to face the dream team. After Anna scored the first hit Italy then took over and won 42-14 without breaking into a sweat.

GB then started to fence defensively which may have been a mistake as they lost to Poland 20-43 and then to Japan 21-30. We ended up 8th out of 9 overall.

Silver went to Russia, who were the winners in Beijing and Bronze went to Korea after beating France 45-32

Photo is of Valentia Vezzali from Italy after scoring the final hit to win gold.

Fencing medals so far:
Italy 2 Gold 2 Silver 1 Bronze
Korea 1 Gold 3 Bronze
China 1 Gold 1 Bronze
Ukraine 1 Gold 1 Bronze
Hungary 1 Gold

Venezuela 1 Gold
Russia 2 Silver 1 Bronze
Germany 1 Silver
Egypt 1 Silver

Norway 1 Silver

Harry Peck invited to spar with Olympic Pentathlon Team

On Tuesday 31th August this week I was lucky enough to fence with the Irish pentathlon team.

Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe (22) and Natalya Coyle (21) will fence on Saturday and Sunday 11th and 12th August. They are training in Twickenham - their coach Marek Makay was pleased to keep them away from the carnival distraction of the Olympic Village. He told me he likes the team to watch other sports, but as the former coach for the Egyptian team for Beijing and Sydney, he has found that maintaining some distance from the Olympic carnival is best to keep the fencers grounded and ready to compete.
The pentathletes not surprisingly are relaxed, and happy. They are also incredibly friendly and welcoming, and kept on thanking me for fencing with them. I couldn't help but like them all.
The fencers' regime is interesting. They recreate the fencing conditions exactly. They will compete between 8 and 10, so that is when they train. The coach times all their activity – getting them to fence for a minute, rest for a minute. And because pentathletes are competing to win a single hit, we tested weapons, saluted, and started a new bout after each hit. The routine is repeated.... and repeated.
Fencing was done to background music - keeping the atmosphere light and fun, and the only dissent was the friendly banter when a fencer changed the music too slowly, or put an unpopular track.
The athletes worked hard, and I fenced constantly almost from the moment I was warmed up - getting increasingly tired. I noticed Arthur seemed not to have broken into a sweat when Marek finally called a halt to the session...
I am looking forward to going back on Friday when we will take part in a pool unique.

But I have to admit that the best bit of all was getting my accreditation - the pass said : "Harry Peck. Irish Olympic Team" and my photo.
It's nice to dream....
I’m off to Poland on Saturday to train with the Polish Cadet team for two weeks before flying to Germany to train with the GB Academy. As a result I won't be able to watch how the pentathletes get on. Without wanting to reduce the chances for the GB team in the slightest, I can't help but hope that Natalya or Arthur will win a medal.

Cheer them on for me?

Photo: From left to right: Me, Irish Pentathlon Coach Marek Makay and Lindsey Weedon who is not only Performance Director for Irish Pentathlon, but also a great fencer!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Men's Épée and Women's Sabre - London 2012 Olympics

Today I was spectating and seeing the fencing event from the other side of the curtain and wow, we are really putting on a great show and we have been highly commended by top officials at the International Olympic Commitee for the standard we set ourselves from day one.

I am most impressed with how the unpaid volunteers, the Gamesmakers, are conducting themselves and really putting in a great effort to make the London 2012 games a great experience for everyone to remember.

The Men’s Epee event had no Team GB fencers entered although it would have been great to have seen Jon Willis end his fencing career as an Olympian and Philip Marsh gain invaluable experience for his future.

Seth Kelsey from USA was a crowd favourite and was unlucky to miss a medal by loosing 11-12 to Jinsun Jung from Korea. The gold medal was won by Ruben Limardo Gascon from Venezuela and silver went to Bartosz Piasecki from Norway. The final was a fantastic display of fencing and a pleasure to watch.

 In the Women’s Sabre the gold medal went to Jiyeon Kim from Korea who beat Sofya Velikaya from Russia 15-10 and the bronze went to Olga Kharlan from the Ukraine. The prize for the loudest screaming after every point (in my opinion) goes to Diah Permatsari from Indonesia who thankfully for knocked out in the first round.

Team GB’s two fencers, Sophie Williams and Louise Bond-Williams were both knocked out in the first round.

Photos are of the two Gold Medal winners.

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

Venezuela 1 Gold
Russia 1 Silver 1 Bronze
Germany 1 Silver
Egypt 1 Silver

Norway 1 Silver