Four Columbia fencers will represent the U.S. in the 2012 London Olympics
It was a heartbreaking loss for CU fencing at the Ivy League Championships this past winter, but that won’t keep the Lions from sending four fencers to the Olympics this summer. Nzingha Prescod and Nicole Ross were selected to be a part of the women’s foil team, while Jeff Spear and James Williams will represent the Light Blue in the men’s foil.
Prescod, who is taking a year off before returning to Columbia for her sophomore year in the fall, had already qualified for one of the three Olympic spots due to her success over the past two years—highlighted by a second-place finish at the Pan Am Games.
Ross, who is on leave and will graduate in the fall, appeared to have practically clinched the remaining spot by midday Sunday. But things were not so simple for the Lion, who only needed a top-eight finish to clinch an Olympic position. Ross fell down in the middle of one of her matches due to a touch that hit her ankle on the bone. Thankfully for Ross, she was already up 11-4 at the break, and was able to close out the victory, 15-4. The foilist took the top spot in the NCAA Championships in 2010.
Spear graduated in 2010 after one of the most storied careers in Columbia Athletics’ history. As an evolutionary biology major with a 4.07 GPA, he was named ESPN The Magazine’s Academic All-American of the Year in 2010. On Sunday, Spear added another accomplishment to his list, qualifying for the replacement spot on the men’s Olympic sabre squad. Spear entered Sunday ranked fourth, but there would be pressure from Ben Igoe, who was close behind in fifth. The two would be competing for the replacement spot on the team, as the top three positions were essentially set. Despite dropping a match to Igoe, 15-4, Spear clinched the slot with a little help from Williams, also a former Lion.
On Sunday, Williams won the Division I finals for the first time in his career on his way to the third berth on the U.S. sabre squad. The 2007 graduate was a part of the squad that took silver in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Williams and Spear will be reunited, having been teammates at Columbia for a short time.
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