Black Fencing Champ Shut Out Of Olympic Games Over Technicality

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Ben Bratton (pictured) pulled off a trifecta at last month’s World Fencing Championships in Ukraine when he became the first Black person, American and youngest competitor to win Gold for the U.S. team.

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Naturally, Bratton would be expected to take his winning ways to the 2012 London Summer Olympics. But he will merely be a spectator like countless others because he is not allowed to participate in this summer’s Games, The Daily reports.

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It seems that with regards to fencing, the International Olympic Committee puts a cap on the number of medals the sport can receive, one team from men’s and women’s fencing is eliminated every four years as part of a rotation. So this year, the men’s team epee in which men use the tips of their swords to score points by touching a competitor anywhere on their person, was eliminated as an Olympic event.

Although Bratton won’t be seeing Big Ben or the London Bridge this summer, his World Championship medal is still a hugely satisfying accomplishment. The 26-year-old Queens, New York native is still keeping hope alive that he’ll be able to participate in the Olympic Games in 2016. “Everything’s happened very quickly,” he said. “I’m always looking forward. I don’t have much time to reflect right now, there’s still a lot of things I need to do,” he told The Daily.
Bratton has been fencing since he was ten-years-old. After graduating from St. John’s University in 2007, the young man set his eyes on competing in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Although Bratton didn’t make the fencing team, he didn’t want to give up his passion. Though he worked as a beer distributor and a real estate agent to pay the bills, but he never gave up fencing. He eventually got back into fighting form during his off-hours and made the national fencing team.

The young athlete decided that he had to sacrifice those day jobs in order to give fencing his full attention, so he began to train twice a day. This meant moving back into his mother’s house.  “It’s about sacrifice,” said. “The Olympians we have here, you talk to anyone who’s ever done it, that will be the common thread.”

Bratton is determined to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games and nothing will deter him.  “Now I have the tools to get there. I’ve gone through all the ups and downs and know what can be thrown at me in an Olympic year, completely,” he said. “I feel more prepared for the next go around.”

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