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St. Paul native and her coach earn spots on Olympic fencing team

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT
  • Star Tribune
  • April 14, 2012 - 11:02 PM

Susie Scanlan didn't want to get ahead of herself. Over the past 15 months, as she sought a place on the U.S. Olympic fencing team, the St. Paul native didn't indulge in any daydreams of what it might be like to compete at the London Olympics this summer.

She expects the real thing will be much better, anyway. Scanlan, 21, was named Saturday night to the U.S. women's epee team for the London Games. Her coach at the Twin Cities Fencing Club, Roberto Sobalvarro, also was named as the U.S. Olympic women's epee coach.

Scanlan took a leave of absence from her studies at Princeton midway through the 2010-11 school year to concentrate exclusively on fencing. Athletes earned Olympic berths through their results in 13 tournaments over the past year. The top three athletes in women's epee made the team; going into the final qualifying event, this weekend's Division I national championships, Scanlan had compiled enough points to lock up a top-three finish.

"I knew I could make the team,'' said Scanlan, a graduate of St. Paul Central who will compete in her first Olympics. "But I didn't want to let myself think, 'Oh, if I'm on the team, this is how it's going to be.' Now, I'm realizing I'm going to get to do those things. It's really happening, and I'm really excited.''

Scanlan had been in seventh place in the point standings until a breakthrough performance in February, when her 16th-place finish at a Grand Prix event in Budapest, Hungary, vaulted her into third. She will do some of her pre-Olympic training at her St. Paul club. She also will train and compete in New York, Mexico and Germany before the Olympics, which run from July 27-Aug. 12.

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