23rd April 2012
Natalia Sheppard has secured her place at the London 2012 Olympics by winning the women’s foil discipline in the final European qualifying event in Slovakia on 22nd April.
Sheppard's victory in Bratislava means she joins Richard Kruse (men's foil) in reaching the Games on merit. Team GB will have eight additional host-nation wild cards to distribute, with selectors deciding who they will go to within the next month.
Sheppard, ranked 55 in the world, beat Cristina Ghita (ROU) 10-6 in the final. The 27-year-old, who will be appearing in her first Games, joins Team GB via the European Zonal qualifiers, an event designed to fill the last two Olympic places in each fencing discipline.
Corinna Lawrence reached the semi-finals of the epee in Bratislava, but lost 15-11 to Hungarian Emese Szasz, the top seed. There were earlier defeats for Joanna Hutchison and James Honeybone in the sabre and Jonathan Willis in the epee. The quartet will now all be waiting to see if they have done enough to be awarded a wild card for this summer's event.
Natalia said: “Since the women's foil squad has been part of the World Class Programme we have gone from strength to strength. I can't wait for London 2012 to show the rest of the world just how far we have come."
The following qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games via the Zonal event:
Men’s Epee: Piasecki (NOR), Karuchenko (UKR), Sukhov (RUS), Zawrotniak (POL)
Women’s Epee: Flessel-Colovic (FRA), Szasz (HUN)
Men’s Foil: Daraban (ROU), Jovanovic (CRO)
Women’s Foil: Leleyko (UKR), Sheppard (GBR)
Men’s Sabre: Boyko (UKR), Skrodski (POL)
Women’s Sabre: Bujdoso (GER), Mikina (AZE), Pascu (ROU), Tschomakova (BUL)