17th June 2012
Just 41 days before the start of the London Olympic Games, Richard Kruse took the bronze medal at the European Championships 2012 in Legnano, Italy.
After a tough start to the day, winning only two of his five first rounds matches, Kruse was ranked 45th for the knockout stages. He put the slow start behind him storming through world number 44, Guyart (FRA), 15-4, in the round of 64 and world number 21, Schlosser (AUT), 15-5, in the round of 32. The same trend continued in the round of 16 as he went 11-2 up against world number 20, Hertsyk (UKR). However the Ukrainian fought back strongly and Kruse found himself 13-12 and looking like he was going to go out. He managed to pull himself back together and take the fight 15-13. Normal order was resumed in the round of 8 where he face world number 30, Ganeev (RUS), storming to a 15-4 victory.
In the gala final, held at Legnano Castle, he faced another Russian in the form of world number 8, Alexey Cheremisinov, in the semi-final. In the sweltering condition Kruse started at a high tempo and found himself 10-5. It seemed that Cheremisinov was there for the taking as he had to take an injury time-out (a maximium of 10 minutes of which he took nearly eight) with a lower back injury. However when he returned to the piste Kruse’s fast start took its toll. The Russian out-scored Kruse ten hits to one to win the match 15-11.
Speaking shortly after the medal ceremony Kruse said; “It feels good. I wanted to be on the podium. I wanted to have a complete burn-out before the Olympics and we’ve got just six weeks now until London. I wanted to push myself to the absolute limit and I did just that. It felt fantastic and it’s a grueling format. I’ll settle for bronze now and we’ll work on fitness when we get back.”
Alex Newton, British Fencing’s Performance Manager, added; “A bronze medal at the Euro's is a good result but not the medal we came for. Richard and I have already identified what needs to be done between now and the Games to convert that medal to a silver or gold and that's when it will really count.”
“I am pleased though that the whole of the men's foil squad performed today with Laurence and James getting last 16 placings.”
“I was also really pleased to see that in women's sabre Chrystall has started to regain her form - she fenced better than I have seen her fence in the last year and was unlucky not to make the L16.”
“We have come a long way in 13 months and whilst there is still work to do, I am confident that today we have taken another step forward in our quest to be truly world class. I am proud to lead such a great team.”
Cheremisinov went on to win the European title beating reigning Olympic Champion, Kleibrink (GER), 15-7. The other bronze medal went to Majewski (POL).
Two other British fencers made the round of 16, Laurence Halsted and James Davis.