June 26, 2008, 1:33 p.m. (ET)
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The United States Olympic Committee will coordinate and oversee USA Fencing's High Performance Program for the 2008 Olympic Games and will supervise and guarantee the funding for athletes, coaches and programs leading up the Games.

Due to recent financial difficulties experienced by USA Fencing, the national governing body of the sport, the USOC in cooperation with USA Fencing has stepped in to make sure that the programs and financing are in place to sustain the NGB's High Performance Program. Paramount for the USOC is making certain America's fencers have the support and resources they need in preparing for and competing in the 2008 Olympic Games.

The USOC and USA Fencing will develop and implement the long-term solution for the NGB after the Games in Beijing.

The U.S. women's sabre team is ranked number one in the world and has high medal expectations for Beijing. Becca Ward is ranked number one in the world, Sada Jacobson is number two and Mariel Zagunis is ranked fifth.

Zagunis won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and Jacobson took bronze in the event. In 2006, the USA swept the medals at the World Championships with Ward taking the gold, Zagunis the silver and Jacobson the bronze. That year Ward also won the world title in the Cadet World Championships. In 2005, the women's saber team won the team gold medal at the World Championships. Ward also won the Junior and Cadet World Championships, giving her three world titles for the season. Jacobson won the World Junior Championships in 2003.

The U.S. men's sabre team narrowly missed a bronze medal in 2004, finishing fourth. Keeth Smart, the 10th ranked sabre fencer in the world, returns for his third Olympic team in the event for Beijing.

Seth Kelsey is currently ranked fourth in the world in men's epee.

A three-person committee will be appointed by the USOC to provide oversight to the program.

Twelve fencers will represent the United States in Beijing, including men and women's sabre, men's and women's foil and men's and women's epee. The USOC will finance these athletes with direct payments and funding for necessary expenses through the Games. Also financed by the USOC will be three replacement athletes who may be needed in case of injuries to the Olympic qualifiers.



U.S. Olympic Qualifiers
Sada Jacobson, Dunwoody, Ga. (women's sabre)
Becca Ward, Portland, Ore. (women's sabre)
Mariel Zagunis, Portland, Ore. (women's sabre)
Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.), Replacement Athlete

Tim Morehouse, Bronx, N.Y. (men's sabre)
Jason Rogers, Los Angeles, Calif. (men's sabre)
Keeth Smart, Brooklyn, N.Y. (men's sabre)
James Williams (Sacramento, Calif./New York, N.Y.), Replacement Athlete

Emily Cross, New York, N.Y. (women's foil)
Erinn Smart, Brooklyn, N.Y. (women's foil)
Hannah Thompson, Rochester, N.Y. (women's foil)
Doris Willette (Lafayette, Calif.), Replacement Athlete

Gerek Meinhardt, San Francisco, Calif. (men's foil)

Kelley Hurley, San Antonio, Texas (women's epee)

Seth Kelsey, Brush Prairie, Wash. (men's epee)
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