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June 10, 2004

Three fencers for Athens

From: Fox Sports, Australia - Jun 10, 2004

AUSTRALIA will send a team of three fencers to the Athens Olympics, as part of its campaign to win its first Olympic medal in the sport.

The team includes 31-year-old Melbourne lawyer Evelyn Halls, who is competing at her second Games.

Also from Melbourne, former world junior champion Seamus Robinson, will compete in his first Olympics.

Both Halls and Robinson will take part in the epee competition in Athens, one of three fencing weapons contested in Olympic competition.

Sydney's Frank Bartolillo, the third member of the team, will compete in foil.

Halls, who trains three hours a day five times a week at fencing, as well as running and gym work, is determined to win a medal in Athens.

"I am excited about getting another opportunity to achieve my goal of winning Australia's first Olympic medal in Fencing," Halls said today.

Over a long career she has won 11 World Cup medals including silver medals in Paris and Prague this year.

As part of her preparation for Athens, Halls, who finished 20th in Sydney, will attend a two week training camp with the Hungarian Fencing team in July.

"I will benefit greatly from that camp," she said. "I need to train at the elite level and focus in those last few weeks before the start of the Athens Games".

Australia is yet to win a medal in Olympic fencing. Its best result was Greg Benko's sixth place in foil at the Montreal Games in 1976.

Bartolillo, who has dominated senior competition in Australia for many years in both foil and sabre, is widely considered the nation's best fencing prospect since Benko.

In 1998 Bartolillo became the youngest fencer ever to win both the foil and sabre Australian championships.

He believes being deaf is an advantage. He saids he is "never distracted by crowd noise and can concentrate to a greater degree than his opponents".

Australia achieved its best team results and best individual epee results at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

The Australian men's epee team of Gerry Adams, Nick Heffernan, Luc Cartillier and David Nathan achieved an unprecedented eighth place at the Olympics, knocking out China to make the Olympic final.

As well, Adams achieved Australia's top performance in Olympic epee with 15th.


Copyright 2004 News Limited.