Fencing

Facts

Discipline of Fencing
Participants 4252
NOCs 103
Competitions held 223 (Venues)
Distinct events 26
IF Fédération internationale d’escrime

Description

Fencing began as a way to learn techniques for using swords in combat and is known to have been practiced well before the birth of Christ. The earliest depiction of a fencing bout has been found in the temple of Medinet‐Habu in Luxor, Egypt, and dates back to around 1190 BCE. It shows wrestling and fencing being contested at a celebration of an Egyptian military victory. As a sport, fencing began in either the 14th or 15th century and both Italy and Germany lay claims to the origins of the sport. In 1570, Henri Saint-Didier of France gave names to fencing’s major movements and most of that nomenclature remains.

Until the 17th century the fencing weapons were large and unwieldy like the combat weapons. However, the dueling sword evolved into the épée and the cutlass into the sabre. The foil was originally a practice weapon for combat and became popular as a sporting event in the late 19th century.

The foil is a light, quadrangular tapering blade in which only hits made with the blade point on the opponent’s torso count. The épée, developed from the dueling weapons of European noblemen, is the same length as the foil, but is heavier and has a triangular blade and a larger handguard. Hits must also be made with the tip of the blade but can be scored over the opponent’s entire body. The sabre has a flat, rectangular blade and owes its origins to the 18th century cavalry sabre. Hits may be scored with the tip of the blade, with its front edge, or with the last one-third of its back edge. The target area is from the bend of the hips up, including the head and arms.

Fencing was first contested at the 1896 Olympics and is one of the few sports to have been contested at every modern Olympic Games. At the 1896 and 1900 Olympic Games, it was the only sport at which professionals, specifically fencing masters, or teachers, were allowed to compete. Women’s fencing first appeared in the Olympics in 1924. Today, men compete in the Olympics with three types of swords – the foil, the épée, and the sabre – in both team and individual events, thus six events in all. Women competed only in foil at the Olympics, until 1996, when women’s épée was added, and women’s sabre was added in 2000. Electronic scoring has been used at the Olympics for epee since 1936, for foil since 1956, and for sabre since 1992.

Fencing is governed worldwide by the Fédération Internationale d’Escrime (FIE), which was formed on 29 November 1913 in Paris, with eight founding members: Belgium, Bohemia, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway. As of 2020 FIE has 157 member nations affiliated. Fencing has been dominated at the Olympics by France and Italy in the foil and épée, and Hungary in the sabre. Italian Edoardo Mangiarotti has won the most Olympic fencing medals with 13. He also won 6 golds. Aladár Gerevich (HUN) has won 10 medals, with a 7 seven golds, while Valentina Vezzali won 9 medals with 6 golds.

Presidents of the Fédération internationale d’escrime:

All-time medal table

Olympic Games

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Italy ITA 49 46 35 130
France FRA 44 43 36 123
Hungary HUN 38 24 28 90
Soviet Union URS 18 15 16 49
Russian Federation RUS 13 5 8 26
West Germany FRG 7 8 1 16
Germany GER 6 8 11 25
People's Republic of China CHN 5 7 3 15
Republic of Korea KOR 5 3 8 16
United States USA 4 11 18 33
Poland POL 4 9 9 22
Romania ROU 4 6 7 17
Cuba CUB 4 3 3 10
Russian Olympic Committee ROC 3 4 1 8
Belgium BEL 3 3 4 10
Sweden SWE 2 3 2 7
Ukraine UKR 2 1 4 7
Greece GRE 2 1 2 5
Great Britain GBR 1 8 0 9
Switzerland SUI 1 4 3 8
Denmark DEN 1 2 3 6
Unified Team EUN 1 2 2 5
Japan JPN 1 2 0 3
Austria AUT 1 1 5 7
Estonia EST 1 0 1 2
Hong Kong, China HKG 1 0 0 1
Mixed team MIX 1 0 0 1
Venezuela VEN 1 0 0 1
East Germany GDR 0 1 0 1
Egypt EGY 0 1 0 1
Mexico MEX 0 1 0 1
Norway NOR 0 1 0 1
Netherlands NED 0 0 5 5
Bohemia BOH 0 0 2 2
Argentina ARG 0 0 1 1
Czech Republic CZE 0 0 1 1
Portugal POR 0 0 1 1
Spain ESP 0 0 1 1
Tunisia TUN 0 0 1 1

Intercalated Games

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
France FRA 3 1 1 5
Germany GER 2 2 0 4
Belgium BEL 2 0 1 3
Greece GRE 1 2 1 4
Netherlands NED 0 1 2 3
Italy ITA 0 1 1 2
Great Britain GBR 0 1 0 1
Hungary HUN 0 0 1 1

Youth Olympic Games

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Italy ITA 4 5 0 9
Mixed team MIX 3 3 3 9
Russian Federation RUS 3 1 1 5
Hungary HUN 3 0 2 5
Republic of Korea KOR 2 2 2 6
United States USA 1 3 1 5
Japan JPN 1 1 0 2
People's Republic of China CHN 1 0 2 3
France FRA 1 0 1 2
Poland POL 1 0 1 2
Ukraine UKR 1 0 0 1
Germany GER 0 2 2 4
Hong Kong, China HKG 0 2 0 2
Sweden SWE 0 1 1 2
Mexico MEX 0 1 0 1
Canada CAN 0 0 1 1
Czech Republic CZE 0 0 1 1
Denmark DEN 0 0 1 1
Egypt EGY 0 0 1 1
Kyrgyzstan KGZ 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Olympic Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Aladár Gerevich HUN 7 1 2 10
Edoardo Mangiarotti ITA 6 5 2 13
Valentina Vezzali ITA 6 1 2 9
Pál Kovács HUN 6 0 1 7
Rudolf Kárpáti HUN 6 0 0 6
Nedo Nadi ITA 6 0 0 6
Christian d'Oriola FRA 4 2 0 6
Lucien Gaudin FRA 4 2 0 6
Giuseppe Delfino ITA 4 2 0 6
Giovanna Trillini ITA 4 1 3 8

Intercalated Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Gustav Casmir GER 2 2 0 4
Georges, Baron Dillon-Kavanagh FRA 2 1 0 3
Cyrille Verbrugge BEL 2 0 0 2
Gabriel, Count de la Falaise FRA 2 0 0 2
Ioannis Georgiadis GRE 1 1 0 2
Pierre d'Hugues FRA 1 0 1 2
Jakob Erckrath de Bary GER 1 0 0 1
August Petri GER 1 0 0 1
Emil Schön GER 1 0 0 1
Richard Mohr FRA 1 0 0 1

Youth Olympic Games

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Yana Yegoryan RUS 2 0 0 2
Marco Fichera ITA 2 0 0 2
Camilla Mancini ITA 2 0 0 2
Edoardo Luperi ITA 2 0 0 2
Lee Sin-Hee KOR 2 0 0 2
Armand Spichiger FRA 2 0 0 2
Krisztián Rabb HUN 2 0 0 2
Davide Di Veroli ITA 2 0 0 2
Liza Pusztai HUN 2 0 0 2
Kateryna Chornyi UKR 2 0 0 2

Event types

Name Gender Still contested? Times held?
Foil, Individual Men 31
Foil, Team Men 24
Épée, Individual Men 29
Épée, Team Men 26
Sabre, Individual Men 31
Sabre, Team Men 26
Foil, Individual Women 23
Foil, Team Women 14
Épée, Individual Women 7
Épée, Team Women 6
Sabre, Individual Women 5
Sabre, Team Women 3
Foil, Individual Boys 4
Épée, Individual Boys 3
Sabre, Individual Boys 3
Foil, Individual Girls 3
Épée, Individual Girls 3
Sabre, Individual Girls 3
Mixed Weapon, Team Mixed Youth 3
Foil, Masters, Individual Men 2
Épée, Masters, Individual Men 2
Épée, Masters and Amateurs, Individual Men 1
Sabre, Masters, Individual Men 2
Sabre, Individual, Three Hits Men 1
Single Sticks, Individual Men 1
Foil, Individual Open 1