Fencing at the 1956 Summer Olympics

Dates 23 November – 5 December 1956
Medal Events 7

The fencing competitions of the 1956 Olympic Games were held at the St. Kilda Town Hall which was more usually used for council meetings. The schedule remained unchanged but there was an innovation in the form of an electronic scoring system which was used for the first time in the foil events.

Once again the European powerhouses of Italy, France and Hungary claimed exclusive possession of the men’s titles (no other nation had claimed gold since 1924) but there was a subtle foreshadowing of the future as both the USSR and Poland claimed medals in the sabre discipline. The great surprise came in the women’s foil where the unheralded Gillian Sheen of Great Britain became her country’s first and, through 2014, only Olympic fencing champion.

Italy won more gold medals (3) and more overall medals (7) than any other nations and also supplied the most successful individual in Edoardo Mangiarotti who two golds and a silver. Mangiarotti’s 3 medals in Melbourne gave him 11 total, 2nd only to Paavo Nurmi at the time. In Rome his 2 medals would take him to a total of 13 would make him #1 on the all-time Olympic medal list to that point – though it was surpassed in 1964 by Larysa Latynina.


Event Status Date Participants NOCs
Foil, Individual, Men Olympic 26 November 1956 32 14
Foil, Team, Men Olympic 23 November 1956 49 9
Épée, Individual, Men Olympic 30 November 1956 41 18
Épée, Team, Men Olympic 28 November 1956 55 11
Sabre, Individual, Men Olympic 5 December 1956 35 17
Sabre, Team, Men Olympic 3 December 1956 43 8
Foil, Individual, Women Olympic 29 November 1956 23 11
165 (142/23) 23 (20/11)


Event Gold Silver Bronze
Foil, Individual, Men Christian d'OriolaFRA Giancarlo BergaminiITA Antonio SpallinoITA
Foil, Team, Men ItalyITA FranceFRA HungaryHUN
Épée, Individual, Men Carlo PavesiITA Giuseppe DelfinoITA Edoardo MangiarottiITA
Épée, Team, Men ItalyITA HungaryHUN FranceFRA
Sabre, Individual, Men Rudolf KárpátiHUN Jerzy PawłowskiPOL Lev KuznetsovURS
Sabre, Team, Men HungaryHUN PolandPOL Soviet UnionURS
Foil, Individual, Women Gillian SheenGBR Olga OrbanROU Renée GarilheFRA

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Italy ITA 3 2 2 7
Hungary HUN 2 1 1 4
France FRA 1 1 2 4
Great Britain GBR 1 0 0 1
Poland POL 0 2 0 2
Romania ROU 0 1 0 1
Soviet Union URS 0 0 2 2