6:00am Saturday 9th June 2012
By Ned Payne
BRITISH Fencing performance manager Alex Newton has defended the selection of Winsley’s Sophie Williams in Great Britain’s Olympic team for London 2012.
The governing body’s selection process came under fire in some quarters after Williams, 21, and colleague Louise Bond-Williams were picked ahead of compatriots Jo Hutchison and Chrystall Nicoll, despite the latter pair holding higher world rankings.
Hutchison and Nicoll subsequently launched an unsuccessful appeal after being overlooked, with the role of national sabre coach Jon Salfield – Williams’ coach in Truro – put under scrutiny.
However, the appeal was rejected by an independent panel and Newton has insisted Williams merited her place at the London Games.
The Wiltshire woman is currently preparing for the women’s sabre event at the senior European Championships in Legnano, Italy, next week, at which Bond-Williams, Hutchison and Nicoll will also compete.
Newton said of Williams: “(She is) a fencer in her first full senior year who has had some good results and performances against the world’s best.
“In the toughest ever international competition environment (for women’s sabre), her performance trajectory is impressive.
“She is on a higher curve than our other women sabreurs. The performance team are confident that she will bridge the gap to the podium by 2016.
“At the time of selection she was ranked 59th in the world and is one of our brightest 2016 prospects and is also capable of producing a credible performance in 2012.”
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