VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Four Columbia fencers - women's foilists Nzingha Prescod '15CC and Nicole Ross '11CC and men's sabre fencers James Williams '07CC and Jeff Spear '10CC - are headed to London to represent the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games.
The quartet clinched their bids to London after the Division I National Championships this past weekend in Virginia Beach, albeit in different ways.
Ross ranked fourth in the National Points Standings entering the weekend and needed a top-eight finish at Nationals to move into third, a slot that would allow her to qualify for the Olympic team.
In her round of 16 bout against Sarah Parmacek, Ross led 9-2 when she hit the floor in pain.
Ross fought through the injury to win the bout against Parmacek and sewed up her Olympic bid with a 14-6 win over Grace Hartman in the quarterfinals.
Prescod, who has been consistently ranked among the world's top 16, had essentially clinched a place on the Olympic team before Nationals and chose not to fence after competing at the Junior World Championships a week earlier.
Prescod took a year off from school at Columbia to train full-time toward the Olympics, where she hopes for both an individual and a team medal.
In men's sabre, James Williams will return to the Olympics for the second straight time after he was part of the United States silver-medal winning team in Beijing in 2008.
“It is really great," Williams told USFencing.org. "I am happy to have accomplished a difficult goal. But, at the same time, my focus is on the team event on August 3rd and I am working to keep it in perspective and stay focused for the next 110 or so days,” Williams said.
Williams' former Columbia teammate, Jeff Spear, will join him on the United States men's sabre squad headed to London. Spear will be a replacement athlete at the 2012 Games but his path to the Olympics was no less special.
Along with Williams and Olympic teammates Tim Morehouse and Daryl Homer, Spear was part of the team that broke the seven-year World Cup drought in March when they won the silver medal at the Moscow World Cup last month.
The fencing competition at the 2012 Olympic Games will take place July 28 to August 5 at the ExCeL Centre in London, England.