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US Womens Epee Team Chosen for 2012 Olympic Games

04/14/2012, 3:44am CDT
By No Author

(Virginia Beach, Va.) – Beijing OlympianKelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) knew her chance at a slot as a replacement athlete on the U.S. Women’s Epee Team for the Games in London would come down to a relatively simple equation.

She needed to place higher than her 2011 Senior World teammate Lindsay Campbell (Brooklyn, N.Y.) at the Division I National Championships in Virginia Beach on Saturday. Or Campbell had to finish lower than fourth. In either case, Hurley would qualify for London. If Campbell placed ahead of Hurley in a top-three or higher finish, the slot would be hers.

With the first three berths on the team locked in by her younger sister Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) as well as Maya Lawrence (Teaneck, N.J.) and Susie Scanlan (St. Paul, Minn.), the fourth slot was the only remaining position at the start of the weekend.

Qualification for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team began in May of 2011 and concluded at the Nationals this weekend where the top three athletes on the USA Fencing National Point Rankings at the end of the event would earn nominations to the U.S. Olympic Team to compete in both the individual and team events. The fourth athlete would be the replacement athlete who is eligible to compete in the team event. All nominations are subject to confirmation by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

“I didn’t really think about it before this weekend. I think it was a defense mechanism. I literally have not been able to think about it. Every time I would think about it, I would get this knot in my stomach and if I really thought about it, I would be in the corner crying all day,” Kelley Hurley said of her stress level going into the weekend.

Kelley came out of the pools as the #1 seed after an undefeated run and Courtney was on the opposite side of the bracket as the #3 seed.

Campbell, who finished with a 17th seed, would be on the opposite side of the bracket from Kelley – meaning that both athletes were left to hope that the other one would be knocked out before the finals.

Both Kelley Hurley and Campbell won their first direct elimination bouts of the day when Campbell defeated Rebecca Chimahusky (Silver Spring, Md.), 15-10, and Kelley Hurley defeated Oksana Samorodov (San Antonio, Texas), 15-8.

In the next round, Kelley and Courtney fenced on strips next to each other in which Kelley was up against former National Champion Natalie Vie (Phoenix, Ariz.) and Courtney faced Campbell.

“The first seven touches, I don’t even remember how it went. I was hoping that I’d be on the side of the strip so that I couldn’t watch Courtney’s bout, but then they moved me to the other side,” Kelley Hurley said.

With the knowledge that she had the ability to finalize the Olympic slot for her sister, Courtney took the strip against Campbell.

“I definitely only focused on one goal and that was to try and beat the person that was trying to qualify over my sister. Unfortunately it was Lindsay,” said Courtney who had previously qualified for the Games due to her past international results. “Definitely, there was a lot of pressure for me still even though I was done. I’ve dealt with pressure before, though, and I don’t necessarily crack under pressure, so it was pretty nerve wracking at the beginning, but I felt like I would win.”

Courtney controlled most of the bout to earn the 15-6 win while her sister focused on ending her bout with Vie, 15-9.

Although Kelley will not be able to compete in the individual event, she said qualifying on the same team as her sister kept her motivated throughout the grueling qualifying season that included 10 international and three domestic events.

“It was the only think keeping me going at this point. I had such a horrible season that it was really bringing me down…My sister being on it, it really kept me going. She really believed in me. She is what made me keep going. I would have given up a long time ago if it wasn’t for her,” Kelley said.

After Scanlan finished in the top 16 in February at the Budapest World Cup which earned her the #3 position on the team, Kelley said she nearly gave up attempting to qualify.

“It was so bad. Budapest was especially depressing. That’s when Susie got that top 16 result and passed me and made me fourth and then Lindsay was 10 points behind me and I had just fenced horribly,” said Kelley who failed to make the table of 64 at the Budapest event. “The more pressure that was put on me, the more I started flailing. It wasn’t looking good for a while. I honestly thought about going home and just forgetting about it. I’m used to fencing well. I’m used to getting results, not fencing like this. It was just breaking me down.”

With the qualifying process done, Kelley said she was overwhelmed by relief.

“The difference in my attitude the past few weeks and now, I literally feel like I lost like 20 pounds. I haven’t been this happy in a year,” she said. “Now, the way I fenced here, I really felt very good. I came here to win it. Thankfully, my sister helped take that pressure off early. And now I’m going to try and have as positive an attitude as possible. The past World Cup negativity is out and I think we really have a chance at a team medal and I’m excited to be a part of that.”

After Lawrence, Campbell and the Hurleys won a silver in the team event at the St. Maur World Cup last month – the first medal ever for a U.S. Women’s Epee Team on the circuit – Team USA’s ranking rose to #6 in the world and all of the team members agree that they have the potential for a repeat in London.

“I knew we were always capable, always on the tip of doing well. We were very close always to getting into the top four a lot of times, but it definitely raises our spirits a lot,” Hurley said.

At 31-years-old, Lawrence missed making the team in Athens during her first attempt at qualification. In Beijing, the U.S. team only qualified one slot in the individual event which meant Lawrence, who was ranked consistently in the top four, would miss the cut again.

In October, however, Lawrence broke through the international ranks with a top-32 finish at the Senior World Championships – a result she followed with a gold medal win at the December North American Cup that virtually secured her slot.

“I’m really excited and I’m extremely happy that I was able to do it, especially since it was something that I wanted since I started fencing. And I’ve watched two cycles go by and finally the third time’s a charm,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said she appreciated knowing that she had already qualified before the start of the weekend.

“It was the best feeling in the world.  It was my goal from the beginning from the start of the qualification year to be able to come to Nationals without having any pressure and because it is so stressful for it to come down to one tournament and know that you have to make a result and that other people have to make a certain result and thinking about numbers than thinking about fencing,” Lawrence said.

With the pressure off for everyone after the table of 16, the Hurleys and Lawrence all advanced to the semifinals where Kelley defeated Lawrence, 15-10, and Courtney won her bout against Lauren Willock (Astoria, N.Y.), 15-6.

In a repeat of past tournaments, including the 2011 Pan American Championships and Pan Am Games, the final featured Kelley vs. Courtney and, though the bout was close, Courtney earned the win, 15-13.

“It’s amazing, of course, to make the team. It’s starting to hit me right now because it’s over and even though I’ve known for a while, my sister I didn’t know for her, so officially we know and it’s nice to enjoy it now,” Courtney said.

Although Scanlan lost in the table of 32 to Willock, 15-13, she said it was hard to be upset when she knew she had qualified for London.

“It was hard to really push myself I guess.  It was hard to really fight my heart out,” Scanlan said. “Ordinarily, I would be upset about losing in the 32, but how can you be sad when you made an Olympic Team?  That’s just awesome. I still can’t believe I actually made the team.  I was focused on qualifying, but I didn’t let myself get excited until it actually happened.”

Although Scanlan is a new addition to the team event, she said she’s looking forward to fencing with Lawrence and the Hurleys.

“I feel good about it. I’ve worked with Kelley and Courtney in the past at the World University Games where we won a silver medal and we’ve done junior events together,” Scanlan said. “Maya and I get along really well and I think we’ve got more World Cups and Zonals left, so it’s really good test run before the Games.”

Lawrence also said she thinks Team USA has the potential to reach the podium in London.

“We were all so ecstatic about [winning the silver medal in St. Maur]. We were all so supportive of each other. I think we’ve grown a lot as a team the past four years. It started off rocky, but now I think we’re in a good spot. When we’re fencing together, we’ve started figuring out how to communicate with each other, what the other people need,” Lawrence said. “We give each other confidence when we’re fencing. We believe in each other and that’s something that we all need. We come together as a team and there are three people there cheering you on and there’s Coach Ro cheering you on and all those people giving you that extra confidence. It really helps it makes a difference. I’m really excited that we’re able to have that. Hopefully, we can go into London ranked pretty high and try to do something there too.”

Top eight results at the Division I National Championships for women’s epee are as follows:

Division I Women’s Individual Epee
1. Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
2. Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
3. Maya Lawrence (Teaneck, N.J.)
3. Lauren Willock (Astoria, N.Y.)
5. Lydia Kopecky (New York City, N.Y.)
6. Charlene Liu (Bridgewater, N.J.)
7. Audrey Abend (New York City. N.Y.)
8. Isabel Ford (Portland, Ore.)

Nominees to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Fencing Team for women’s epee are as follows:

1. Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)
2. Maya Lawrence (Teaneck. N.J.)
3. Susie Scanlan (St. Paul, Minn.)
Replacement Athlete: Kelley Hurley (San Antonio, Texas)

Tag(s): News  Courtney Hurley  Kelley Hurley  Maya Lawrence