Richard Kruse agonisingly misses out on Olympic fencing medal after finishing fourth in Rio

Great Britain's Richard Kruse departs after losing the bronze medal match in Rio. Pic: PA

Great Britain's Richard Kruse departs after losing the bronze medal match in Rio. Pic: PA - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Richard Kruse produced his best ever run at the Olympics but agonisingly missed out on a fencing medal, which would have been Britain’s first at the Games for 52 years, as he finished fourth in Rio.

Richard Kruse (left) in action in his semi-final against USA's Alexander Massialas. Pic: PA

Richard Kruse (left) in action in his semi-final against USA's Alexander Massialas. Pic: PA - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

The 33-year-old, who used to train at Acland Burghley School, is a member of ZFW Fencing Club – which is based at South Hampstead High School - and is coached by Ziemek Wojciechowski, who lives in Willifield Way in Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Kruse, who had previously competed in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games, beat double Olympic champion Andrea Cassara of Italy to reach the semi-finals of the individual men’s foil tournament today.

But, after losing to the world No1, Alexander Massialas (USA), and finding himself fighting for bronze rather than gold, he suffered an agonising 15-13 defeat to Russia’s Timur Safin, having battled back from 12-5 down.

“It was very close and I almost converted a medal for Britain, which would have been the first fencing medal for nearly 60 years, but I couldn’t quite finish it,” said Kruse.

“The pressure was the fact that fencing hasn’t won a medal for a long time, so that was the expectation when I got out there, but it wasn’t to be.

“I came back well and learned what to do against him [Safin] but learnt what to do too late. I was fencing him at a large distance using a lot of force, but when I started thinking about what I was doing it started to work well, but it was gone by then.

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“I’m very proud for getting into the top four and I’ve beaten some good opponents along the way.

“It’s all a bit of fun. I’ve had a good time, been around the world and beaten some very good people so I can’t complain. We still have the team event to go and on our day we could win it so that is the focus now.”

Safin had already beaten another Brit, Barnet’s James Davis, by the same scoreline in the last 16, while Laurence Halsted lost his first clash in the last 32, going down 15-9 to China’s Chen Haiwei.

All three GB fencers have been members of Salle Paul in Hendon in the past, and have worked with Wojciechowski in north London.

They will join together to contest the team event on Friday, facing a Russian team including Safin in the quarter-finals.

A disappointed and frustrated Davis said: “I just got stale. I didn’t adapt in the bout. I took a great lead and then just got lazy. I kept doing the same action and let him back in it. I fenced like an idiot towards the end to be honest.

“I’d beaten him [Safin] this season and I’m experienced enough that I should be seeing out games. I should have pulled away and finished it but instead I let him get back in it.

“By the end I was getting lucky hits to keep in it rather than being able to execute what I wanted. I’m not happy with some of the calls but you have to deal with it.

“We’ve got Russia again in the team event. We’ve beaten them before and we can do it again. They do the same thing and if we’re smart we can win that.

“If we’re stupid like I was up there, it will be an early finish. We have to focus, go hard as a team and go for the win. We can do it.”

Halsted reflected: “I really didn’t start well in terms of points but actually I didn’t feel like I was out of the match as much as the score showed.

“It was a bit of a strange one. The finesse of it wasn’t coming at the start. I caught that in the middle and got quite a few hits in a row but then he stormed away again at the end.

“The focus for my last two years has been the team event. I wasn’t pinning all my hopes on the individual and I’m really excited for the team event now.”