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MARSH REACHES HER GOAL IN FENCING

Before leaving for the Olympics, fencer Ann Marsh said she had an outside chance to finish among the top 16 in the women's individual foil. As it turned out, she handicapped her odds pretty well.

Marsh, a medical resident at several Buffalo-area hospitals, finished 16th in the women's foil today at the Exhibition Centre on Darling Harbour. She upset Ekaterina Ioucheva of Russia, a two-time former Olympic medalist, 15-9, before losing to Romania's Reka Zsofia Szabo, 15-7, in the Round of 16.

"Considering the circumstances, I'm very pleased," Marsh said. "I would like to have made it to the medal round and taken my chances. But I'm proud of what I accomplished."

The "circumstances" she spoke of were pretty daunting for an Olympic athlete. Marsh graduated from the University of Rochester School of Medicine earlier this year and is serving the first year of a three-year residency in pediatric medicine.

A first-year medical resident deals with long hours and lots of stress. That made it difficult for Marsh, regarded as the best female fencer in U.S. history, to devote much time to training before the Games. She ran occasionally in Delaware Park and lifted some weights, but otherwise she was busy with her hospital duties.

So beating Ioucheva, who won the gold medal in individual foil in 1992 and a bronze in '96, was a significant achievement. Marsh was seeded 25th.

"Ioucheva has been one of the best fencers in the world for years," she said. "To beat her was quite gratifying."

Marsh says her ultimate goal is to win a medal in the team foil event. She will compete in that event Saturday with Iris and Felicia Zimmerman, sisters from the Rochester suburb of Rush. The Zimmerman sisters attend Stanford University and are friends of Chelsea Clinton, who was on hand for today's fencing competition.

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