SA fencer qualifies for Paris Olympics

David Isaacson Sports reporter
Harry Saner is all smiles after securing his Olympic spot in the men's epee.
Harry Saner is all smiles after securing his Olympic spot in the men's epee.

Fencer Harry Saner has won a spot at the Paris Olympics, earning his ticket at a qualifier in Algiers on Saturday.

The 23-year-old Saner, one of six South African entrants, finished top in the men’s épée competition at the continental tournament ahead of the Paris Games from July 27 to August 11. 

He will be the first fencer to represent South Africa at an Olympics since Beijing 2008.

Saner, however, wasn't the first South African to qualify for a Games in the past 16 years, with Juliana Barrett being omitted for Rio 2016 because of the stiffer selection standards employed at the time by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc). 

In 2019 national federations voted to throw out Sascoc's Olympic selection standards, allowing all qualifiers to be eligible for the national games team. That policy has remained in force, though Swimming South Africa last year opted to make the Paris 2024 standards tougher for water polo, open-water swimming and artistic swimming. 

Barrett took legal action against Sascoc and they eventually settled out of court with the fencer reportedly being paid R2.7m in 2022. 

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