THE Olympic dreams of two local fencers are hanging in the balance.
Both Alex O'Connell and Chrystall Nicoll are waiting nervously to see if they will receive one of eight a home-nation places after failing to qualify through their world ranking.
Neither athlete got the chance to get to London 2012 through last month's European Zonal Qualifiers and can now do little more to push their claims.
O'Connell, who lives in Brentwood, told the Gazette: "I don't really know what's going to happen. I'm just waiting with baited breath to find out.
"I know they're looking at a certain criteria but it's quite complicated.
"Naturally I'm desperate to take part in the Olympics, but at the end of the day I think I can look in the mirror and say I've given it my best shot.
"I was selected as a first reserve for the zonal qualifiers but I didn't compete which was frustrating."
The 24-year-old sabre specialist was involved in the 2008 Beijing Games and doesn't know if having that experience will weigh in his favour when British fencing bosses make their decision in the coming weeks.
He feels a major factor behind his downturn in form over the past couple of years was losing his coach David Sach, who left for America.
O'Connell said: "Fencing is a very technical sport and the coach and the fencer have a very close relationship. It can take a long time to adapt to a new coach and it's taken a while for us to connect.
"It had been my aim to really kick on after the last Olympics but sometimes people can plateau. It's a shame that I've haven't got better but I'm proud of how hard I've worked."
Regardless of the Olympics the fencing season continues. Nicoll, from Wickford, has been competing in Italy while O'Connell is set to travel to Madrid, Spain this weekend for a tournament before next month's European Championships.