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OLYMPICS: I learned so much, says Sophie
WINSLEY fencer Sophie Williams insists her brief experience as an Olympian will leave her better prepared to take on the world in the Games in Rio in four years’ time.
The 21-year-old bowed out of the women’s sabre competition at London’s ExCel in her opening final 32 match on Wednesday as she was beaten 15-6 by world number six Irene Vecchi, from Italy, who had helped her country to European team gold last year.
Williams, who trains in Truro, Cornwall, was disappointed to see her London 2012 experience ended in a matter of minutes, admitting to feeling ‘daunted’ by the prospect of competing in her first Olympic Games.
“I am just disappointed that I couldn’t put in a better performance really,” said Williams, who never recovered after going 6-0 down early on in her contest.
“I think I was just daunted by the whole experience but it was amazing and I feel as though I have learned so much.
“Irene is an incredible fencer and I knew it would be difficult going into it.
“She is ranked sixth in the world for a reason.
“I have fenced against her in the past and done well but unfortunately I couldn’t put in the same performance here as she was very strong at the beginning and she got away from me. It was very hard to close that gap.’’
The selection of Williams and colleague Louise Bond-Williams ahead of higher-ranked duo Jo Hutchinson and Chrystall Nicoll in the Great Britain team had caused controversy.
But British fencing chiefs reasoned that Williams was being selected with development towards Rio in mindand the Wiltshire woman believes she will reap the benefits.
Referring to the selection row, she added: “It was what it was. I think it happened in every single sport.
“I didn’t let it get to me too much – I knew why I was chosen.
“The reason I was selected was to experience the Games atmosphere and I am so happy.
“It has definitely inspired me. I want to come back and in Rio now I will be ready for it all.”
Williams, who will study neuroscience at University College London after the Games, was watched by parents Tracey and Jon and brother Thomas at the ExCel.
And despite her early exit, she said the reception she received as she came out for her contest was a moment to remember.
“It was incredible, everyone gave so much support and it was an amazing atmosphere and so overwhelming,” she said.
“I can’t thank everyone enough for their support, I’m sorry I couldn’t put in a better performance “This is hopefully just my first Olympics but to have the whole crowd cheering you on was special and I doubt anything like that will happen again.
“It is not something we are used to but I could certainly get used to it.
“I’m so glad I’ve had this opportunity.
“Hopefully I’ll come back in four years and put in a better performance – and perhaps we’ll have a team event to go for then as well.”