Qualification hopes foiled

Fencing

The World Championships, which ended here last night, have left Britain still needing to qualify for the Olympic Games next summer. They must do so via the geographic zone team events provisionally scheduled for November.

The Britons were not the only ones to falter; the traditionally strong French, German and Italian squads also failed in some disciplines. And yet the British performance was slightly better than in the recent past, with some good individual efforts not always reflected in the final positions.

Among the best was that from Penny Tomlinson, who eliminated Laura Cheasa, the defending epee champion and world No 4. The men's epee team also performed well and were unfortunate to lose to Spain after beating Colombia.

The sabre team were consistent, with all four fencers achieving the minimum expected at foreign events. In the team event won by Italy, they started well, defeating Azerbaijan but could not contain the Romanians after leading. Dignity was restored by a skilful 45-36 defeat of China before going out to Bulgaria.

Britain's aggregate of 54points gave them 18th position. While this is short of the direct Olympic route, it is still up in the top third internationally.

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