Fencing: Although sword fighting dates back thousands of years, Fencing as we now understand it really came of age as a sport in the 19th century. A tense, compelling battle of wits and technique, the sport is one of the few to have featured at every modern Olympic Games.
Field of play
Fencing takes place on a piste, 14 metres long and between 1.5m and 2m wide.
Fencing at Games
At the first modern Olympic Games of 1896, the Fencing programme consisted of men’s Foil and Sabre events, while the third discipline Epée made its debut at Paris 1900. Women’s Foil first featured at the Paris 1924 Games, with Epée and Sabre added in 1996 and 2004 respectively.
Three types of weapon are used in Olympic Fencing. In bouts using the Foil and the slightly heavier Epée, hits are scored by hitting an opponent with the tip of the weapon. In Sabre, hits are more commonly scored with the edge of the weapon.
All 10 medal events on the Fencing programme are run in a knockout format. In Individual competition, men’s and women’s Foil, men’s sabre and women’s Epée start with a round of 64, although the fact that there are only 39–39 athletes in each event means that some athletes will receive byes into the round of 32. Men’s Epée and women’s Sabre begin with a round of 32, with a maximum of two athletes receiving byes into the round of 16. The draw is based on the existing FIE rankings.
A referee oversees each Fencing bout. The referee is assisted by a video referee and, in the later stages of the competition, two assistant referees, who look for rule infringements.
Keys to success
Fencing is a fast and a tense sport. Fencers must use all their wits and quick thinking to outmanoeuvre their opponent, judging the time and effective way to attack.
The Venue: ExCel