Laura Flessel-Colovic became the top women’s épée fencer at the Olympic Games, in the era shortly after the discipline first appeared on the Olympic Program in 1996. Known as “The Wasp,” she won five Olympic medals, including gold in both the individual and team events in 1996. She added an individual bronze in 2000, and an individual silver and team bronze in 2004. She continued competing at the Olympics through the 2012 London Games, where she was French flagbearer at the Opening Ceremony.
Born on the island of Guadeloupe, Flessel began fencing at age seven. Seeking stronger competition, she emigrated to France in 1990, and in her first year of competition there, became French junior champion. In addition to her Olympic successes, Flessel-Colovic won 13 medals at the World Championships, including six gold medals, winning the individual épée in 1998 and 1999, and team épée in 1998, 2005, and 2007-08. She won five medals at the European Championships, including individual gold in 2007, and was World Cup Champion in 2002-03. Flessel-Colovic later entered sports administration and in May 2017 was nominated by the new French President Emmanuel Macron to be French Secretary of Sports.