Marcus Mepstead admits his road from Rio Olympics to Tokyo has been ‘surreal’

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Marcus Mepstead battled back from the brink of retirement to secure his place as the sole fencer in Great Britain’s team for the Tokyo Olympics.

The Hampstead 31-year-old faced some tough decisions after funding was withdrawn from the sport in the wake of the Rio Games in 2016, shrouding his future in uncertainty.

But after moving to New York to link up with world-class coach Dan Kellner, Mepstead won a silver medal at the 2019 World Championship, vindicating his decision to continue with his career.

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Mepstead said: “It’s been a really surreal journey from the Rio Games to Tokyo. Just a couple of months after Rio we lost our funding and I had to rebuild my whole set-up and was in quite a lot of debt.

“Two years after moving to New York I won my world silver and we carried through the qualifying process only to be prevented from securing my place due to covid, and all the uncertainty was really hard to manage.

“I picked my personal funding back up after that medal. There’s been a lot of ups and downs and while you know that’s a big part of your sport, it certainly doesn’t make it any easier.”

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Marcus Mepstead (right) will bid for a podium place in Tokyo (PA Archive)

Mepstead was a member of the four-man British team that won a shock gold medal at the inaugural European Games in Baku in 2015, and was also part of a four-man foil team that finished sixth in Brazil.

But as the only survivor of a gruelling qualifying process, Mepstead must go it alone in Tokyo, where he will use memories of winning that silver medal as proof that he has it within him to reach the podium.

“That silver medal has really cemented my place within the top 16 in the world and these are the guys who will be fighting for those medals in Tokyo,” added Mepstead.

“I’m really confident in the work I’ve been doing with my coach, and I think I’ve done everything to give myself the best possible chance to win that gold medal in Tokyo.”

Team GB Chef de Mission Mark England hailed Mepstead’s achievement, saying: “Marcus’ determination and consistency has been incredible to watch over recent years, and this has ensured that Team GB can be represented in fencing at another Olympic Games – something Marcus should be very proud of.”