Fencing

Facts

Discipline of Fencing
Participants 4095
NOCs 101
Competitions held 211 (Venues)
Distinct events 25
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 BC. 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 2018 FIE has 153 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 six gold. Aladár Gerevich (HUN) has won 10 medals, with a record seven golds.

Presidents of the Fédération internationale d’escrime:

All-time medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Italy ITA 49 43 33 125
France FRA 42 41 35 118
Hungary HUN 37 23 27 87
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
Poland POL 4 9 9 22
People's Republic of China CHN 4 7 3 14
Romania ROU 4 5 7 16
Cuba CUB 4 3 3 10
Republic of Korea KOR 4 2 5 11
United States USA 3 11 17 31
Belgium BEL 3 3 4 10
Sweden SWE 2 3 2 7
Ukraine UKR 2 1 3 6
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
Austria AUT 1 1 5 7
Mixed team MIX 1 0 0 1
Venezuela VEN 1 0 0 1
Japan JPN 0 2 0 2
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
Portugal POR 0 0 1 1
Spain ESP 0 0 1 1
Tunisia TUN 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

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

Event types

Name Gender Still contested? Times held?
Foil, Individual Men 28
Foil, Team Men 23
Épée, Individual Men 28
Sabre, Individual Men 29
Sabre, Team Men 25
Foil, Individual Women 22
Foil, Team Women 13
Épée, Individual Women 6
Sabre, Individual Women 4
Sabre, Team Women 2
Foil, Individual Boys 3
Épée, Individual Boys 2
Sabre, Individual Boys 2
Foil, Individual Girls 2
Épée, Individual Girls 2
Sabre, Individual Girls 2
Mixed Weapon, Team Mixed Youth 2
Foil, Masters, Individual Men 2
Épée, Masters, Individual Men 2
Épée, Team Men 25
Épée, Masters and Amateurs, Individual Men 1
Sabre, Masters, Individual Men 2
Sabre, Individual, Three Hits Men 1
Single Sticks, Individual Men 1
Épée, Team Women 5