Byrne wins Olympic fencing place

May 26, 2008

Byrne, who competes in the Sabre weapon category, faced stern competition to attain qualification for the Beijing Games as only the top two finishers in Istanbul secured places.Byrne booked her place by beating the tournament’s number one seed Andreea Pelei of Romania 15-14 in a thrilling semi-final.

There were nine countries competing for only the two places; Romania, Greece, Great Britain, Spain, Iceland, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, hosts Turkey and Byrne of Ireland.
Byrne is in her final year of a sports scholarship at Ohio State University, where she is studying Health Management.

Byrne becomes the first Irish fencer to reach an Olympic Games since Michael O’Brien in 1992 in Barcelona.

An hour later she faced Spaniard Araceli Navarro in the final of the tournament, but missed out on gold by a mere one hit in a 14-15 defeat.

After the final a delighted Byrne said: ‘I am so so thrilled to qualify for the Olympics; I just can’t believe it. I felt good coming into this tournament; I knew what I had to do to realise my goal and I stayed focused and positive throughout.

‘I felt like it was my time, and it is; this is my turn. I am so grateful to my coach, and manager, Ohio State

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